Superfast fibre broadband has arrived at Grange Park, South Northamptonshire, up to six months earlier than expected, thanks to the county council’s Superfast Northamptonshire project and its partnership with BT.
The multi-million pound Superfast Northamptonshire project is part of the national Superfast Britain programme.
The council aims to secure access to superfast broadband for all parts of the county by the end of 2017.
The project is building the fibre infrastructure necessary to supply superfast broadband to areas which are commercially unviable. This is mainly in rural areas, but also includes hard-to-reach pockets in towns.
Why was Grange Park unique?
Grange Park on the edge of Northampton is one such community not included in the private sector’s commercial plans - the telecoms network laid when the estate was built could not be easily adapted for superfast speeds.
This unusual situation meant that a tailor-made solution was needed. In this instance it was necessary to connect the fibre for superfast broadband directly from the telephone exchange at Hardingstone to people’s homes by ‘fibre to the premises’ technology capable of offering download speeds up to 330Mbps.
The county council has worked with local partners to pull together the extra funding needed to bring forward a solution. This included essential contributions from the county council, Grange Park Parish and South Northamptonshire councils as well as Government.
Cllr Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for economic growth and strategic infrastructure, said: “I am delighted that the county council has brought local partners together to secure a solution to serve Grange Park. BT and Openreach have done a great job to get the fibre in the ground so quickly.
“This is the largest community in Northamptonshire to be served by ‘fibre to the premises’ and it’s great that local residents are now starting to benefit.
“They join more than 53,900 homes and businesses already with access to superfast fibre broadband as a result of the county council’s £16.2m investment with partners in Superfast Northamptonshire.”
Steve Henderson, BT’s regional director of next generation access, said: “People living in Grange Park will have noticed more Openreach engineers working in the area during recent weeks and months. Our partnership with the council is making great progress in Northamptonshire and although there’s more work to be done, we’re delighted to be bringing fibre broadband to this area up to six months earlier than originally expected.”
How many homes will benefit?
About 1,300 homes in Grange Park will eventually be able to benefit from the technology. Already more than 300 households are now able to upgrade to a superfast fibre connection.
Work is being completed in phases with access to fibre services coming forward in different parts of the community at different times between now and the end of December 2015. This is a significant achievement by Openreach, BT’s local network business, and will see works completed in time for many to have a ‘superfast’ Christmas. It had originally been planned to make fibre broadband available to Grange Park households by the end of March 2016.
Councillor Stephen Clarke, South Northamptonshire Council Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Regeneration and Housing, said: "This is good news for our residents living in Grange Park. It has always been our intention to secure the best solution in the shortest timescale.
"South Northamptonshire attracts a high percentage of entrepreneurial activity and homeworking so an early roll out of broadband will be vital to residents and businesses alike. SNC has committed significant resources to the Superfast Northamptonshire project and so I am keen to see that this investment will substantially enhance our broadband provision."
Plans in Northamptonshire have been accelerated following a deal between the county council and BT in August 2015 and will now see more than 73,850 premises benefit from access to superfast broadband by the end of 2017.
Residents and businesses should contact their internet service provider about upgrading to fibre broadband - it will not happen automatically.