BT has been awarded yet more money by the government's Broadband Development UK (BDUK) initiative, to bring fibre broadband to 90 percent of homes and businesses in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire by 2016.
The project, which is set to benefit more than 140,000 homes and businesses, builds on BT’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband across the two counties. £18.17m of the funds will come from BDUK, £10.1 million from Herefordshire Council, £7.5m from Gloucestershire County Council and £20.9 million from BT.
This is the first time that two local authorities have worked together to roll out broadband services, according to BT. It is estimated that the investment could boost the local economy by almost £42m a year, and provide speeds of up to 24Mbps or above for all who want it by 2018.
“The County Council has a commitment to help Gloucestershire grow by investing in better skills, infrastructure and homes – for young people, for business and for the community,” said Gloucestershire County Council leader, Mark Hawthorne.
“This deal enables us to put in place an infrastructure to support growing businesses and help people live where they want to live.”
Herefordshire Council Leader, John Jarvis, added that the project will attract more businesses to the county and enabling rural properties to become less isolated.
Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), where fibre cabling is connected to a street cabinet near a user’s home or business, will be the main technology employed, delivering potential downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps.
Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) – delivering speeds of up to 330Mbps – will also be deployed in certain areas and will be available on demand throughout the whole of the fibre footprint should local businesses require ultra-fast speeds.
Homes and businesses that are harder to reach with a fixed fibre line in the remaining ten percent will be connected using alternative new broadband technologies, said BT.
BT is still the only ISP to have won contracts under the BDUK scheme, and a recent Lords Committee report warned that the process was its anti-competitive. BT has also been forced to deny claims that it has been artificially inflating the costs of rolling out super-fast broadband in rural areas.