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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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£51m superfast broadband deal signed

THE £51m contract to bring superfast broadband to 93 per cent of Cumbrian homes and businesses was finally signed on the shores of Ullswater yesterday.

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CONNECTED: From the left, Bill Murphy, managing director for Next Generation Access BT; Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border; and Elizabeth Mallinson, Cumbria County Council cabinet member for Connecting Cumbria sign the Connecting Cumbria contract on the shores of Ullswater DAVID HOLLINS 50041762F001

The move signalled a start to a communications revolution in the county that it is hoped will transform the fortunes of many rural communities.

BT will now embark on a two-year roll-out that will deliver speeds of up to 80Mbps for Cumbrian homes once the County Council’s cabinet has met in January to agree a set of priorities which will determine the order in which communities get connected.

It will approve a plan that will show each community and business at which point in the programme they will be connected and what speeds to expect.

Those that require higher speeds will be given advice and support.

Fibre to the home technology – delivering ultra-fast speeds of up to 330Mbps – will also be deployed in certain areas and will be available on demand.

Senior BT managers and county council leaders at the launch were aware of frustrations in Ulverston about the lack of a firm date for superfast installation, but said there was no question of the town missing out.

Councillor Elizabeth Mallinson, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member with lead responsibility for Connecting Cumbria, said. “BT will provide superfast broadband for Ulverston and for the rest of the county – we will have a timetable and a roll out so people will know where they are for the next two years.

“We have a tremendously exciting three years ahead of us, but I would ask people to be patient and allow us to deliver this huge programme in a strategic way which is in the best interests of the county as a whole.”

Bill Murphy, managing director of BT’s Next Generation Access, said: “The project is incredibly important for Cumbria and BT is proud to be a part of it. “Cumbria’s scattered population combined with its comparatively large size and challenging geography, means that small business plays a pivotal role in the county’s economy and the roll out of fibre broadband will act as an economic driver for those rural businesses.

The £51m funding has been earmarked for rural areas which would not otherwise receive broadband investment from the private sector.

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