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BT has announced a major investment in Cumbria, which could help create new businesses and hundreds of local jobs. High-speed fibre broadband will be rolled out to more than 10,400 homes and businesses in Whitehaven during 2013. It will take the total number for the whole of Cumbria to more than 83,800 when all the planned upgrades are completed.
The investment - part of a £2.5 billion BT roll-out of fibre broadband across the UK - is expected to give a major lift to the local economy. Recent research by Regeneris Consulting predicted that over the next 15 years
BT’s fibre broadband could give the economy of a typical town a £143 million boost, create 225 new jobs and 140 new start-up businesses.
Mike Blackburn, BT’s regional director for the North West, said: “The arrival of fibre broadband in Whitehaven is a massive shot in the arm for the local economy, creating new businesses, jobs and educational opportunities.
“The benefits are major and wide ranging. As our new fibre network expands across region it also brings new potential for offering essential public services on-line and cost savings across the sectors.
“Local firms and households who make the switch to fibre broadband will be able to do so much more with their connection, whether they’re using it for business, entertainment, education, social networking or shopping – or all of these at once. They’re joining more than 10 million premises now passed by our fibre network and becoming part of one of the fastest roll-outs of the technology anywhere in the world.”
Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland, said: “This is excellent news for many people in Cumbria. They’re the latest in the region who will soon have access to the next generation of internet services.
“Reliable, fast connections can make all the difference to education and business, and give people much greater scope for interaction with the world around them. In a tough economic climate, this investment will help make Cumbria an even better place to live, work and do business, and will help to develop the Energy Coast programme.”
John Grainger, managing director of Invest In Cumbria, said: “Super-fast broadband is an essential building block to economic recovery and growth. It will give our local firms in Whitehaven a boost and bring a competitive edge in attracting new businesses, jobs and investment. Residents will also benefit from being able to do more, better and faster, online.”
BT’s local network business Openreach is making fibre broadband available to around two-thirds of UK homes and businesses by the end of 20141 using a mix of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP) technologies.
Both offer speeds many times faster than those currently available to most UK homes and businesses. FTTC, where fibre is delivered to the street cabinet, offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps2. FTTP, where fibre runs all the way to homes and businesses, offers download speeds of 110Mbps, with 330Mbps2 coming soon.
By spring 2013 BT aims to make speeds of 330Mbps2 commercially available in any area where fibre broadband has been deployed3. The UK’s current average broadband speed is 7.6Mbps, according to the regulator Ofcom.
Mike Blackburn added: “As more and more people get connected to the fibre broadband network, it’s increasingly important that those living in our more rural areas don’t miss out. Across the UK, public bodies are developing plans to boost broadband speeds in even the most challenging areas. BT will compete hard to be the private sector partner of choice in such initiatives and, if selected, we’ll invest further funds to take faster broadband to as many people as possible. Unlike some others, our network is available on an equal, wholesale basis to all companies offering broadband services, bringing choice and competition to local households and businesses.
”We want to help the UK achieve world-class digital connectivity and make sure the communities where we provide services and jobs remain vibrant, strong and connected.”
Internet users with a fibre broadband connection can do much more online, all at the same time. A family can download a movie, watch a TV replay service, surf the net and play games online simultaneously. A whole album can be downloaded in less than 30 seconds and a feature length HD movie in less than 10 minutes, whilst high-resolution photos can be uploaded to Facebook in seconds.
Upload speeds are the fastest widely available to consumers in the UK, with large video and data files being sent almost instantly and hi-resolution photos posted online in seconds. And high quality voice and video calls mean businesses can keep in touch with customers while they cut down on travel.
For further information on Openreach’s fibre broadband programme visit www.superfast-openreach.co.uk