Fast, affordable fibre broadband is set to become available to Northamptonshire homes and businesses by the end of 2015 as a result of a multi-million pound project between Northamptonshire County Council and BT.
Following a Cabinet decision in February the county council has signed a contract with BT to deploy fibre access infrastructure to areas of the county which would otherwise not be provided for commercially.
The project will build on existing commercial fibre investment and will provide world class fibre broadband speeds to 53,000 Northamptonshire homes and businesses, as part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.
The Superfast Northamptonshire project will also support the Council’s ambition to make available a minimum of 2Mbps to all premises when the roll-out is complete.
The project will ensure that almost 3,000 Northamptonshire business premises will have access to fibre infrastructure by September 2015.
Work on the project will start with immediate effect with the first locations enabled with fibre later this year. The three-year deployment will begin with a period of planning and surveying, before Openreach, BT’s local network business, starts work on the ground.
The Economic Impact Assessment commissioned by the County Council in September 2011 on the economic impact of broadband in Northamptonshire concluded that the superfast Northamptonshire Project could deliver within the rural areas:
- 1,700 additional jobs by 2026/7
- £110 million in additional annual GVA (Gross Value Added) by 2026/7
Andre Gonzalez De Savage, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for infrastructure and public protection, said:
“This is undoubtedly one of the biggest projects we’re involved with which will make an enormous difference in bringing prosperity to the county.
“Having widely available superfast broadband is essential if we are to compete in the digital global economy and I’m delighted that we’ve reached such a significant stage of this initiative.”
BT will contribute £8.1m to the project whilst £4.08m will each come from BDUK and Northamptonshire County Council.
BT’s network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Northamptonshire consumers and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market, in turn bringing greater choice and affordable prices.
Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director, Next Generation Access, added: “Access to high speed broadband is becoming increasingly important for economic growth. The first question people considering moving house often ask is about broadband speeds and increasingly many jobs are only advertised on-line. Access to broadband is also a major determining factor in where businesses decide to locate.
“It will reduce costs for consumers and providers and enhance the capability of businesses to communicate and exchange information with their customers and suppliers. This is fundamental to the future prosperity of and local quality of life.”
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This is fantastic news for Northamptonshire, as well as the obvious benefits the superfast broadband will bring, it’s estimated that the project will create around 1,700 new jobs.
“The UK already does more business online than any other European country, and widespread access to superfast broadband will provide a tremendous boost to the Northamptonshire local economy.”
It will also boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for local people as well as easier access to local authority and health services.
Fibre broadband will enable people to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. This will make things like gaming, watching BBC i-Player or downloading films and music much quicker and without annoying ‘buffering’ or screen freeze. For business it means quick and easy download and upload of large documents and data to customers and suppliers or time and cost savings by enabling video conferencing for example.
Computer processing and storage of files will also become more sophisticated and secure using ‘cloud computing’ technology. There will be faster back-up of computer systems and wider use of high quality videoconferencing within businesses and between them and their customers.
New fibre services are also set to transform the way consumers use the internet, from the simple sharing of pictures and video to enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available on-line.