Chester broadband set to go ‘Superfast’

CONNECTING CHESHIRE has revealed its roll-out map to bring fibre broadband to 96 per cent of Cheshire.

Fibre Broadband signs such as this one will soon be a common feature across Cheshire. Picture: Flickr/Ell Brown

Fibre Broadband signs such as this one will soon be a common feature across Cheshire. Picture: Flickr/Ell Brown

The map shows where communities throughout the county can expect the high-speed technology to arrive by the end of summer 2015. It also shows the areas already able to access the fibre broadband and those planned to be connected under the Connecting Cheshire programme, which will extend the network to over 80,000 premises.

This news comes seven months after four Cheshire councils signed a £28.5million deal with BT to improve speeds across the county.

Councillor Herbert Manley, Executive Member for Growth and Innovation for Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “The delivery of Superfast Broadband is a huge step forward for Chester West and Chester businesses and communities.”

“The Connecting Cheshire team has worked tirelessly to deliver this project; it is an excellent example of partnership working.”

As a part of the plans, 875 miles of fibre-optic cable will be laid as BT’s engineers work to upgrade the county’s infrastructure of telegraph poles and underground wiring.

According to an Ofcom UK Broadband Speeds Report in June 2013, Cheshire’s current average speed is 16Mbps, whereas 96 per cent of Cheshire premises will have access speeds of up to 80Mbps as a result of the scheme.

The final four per cent of premises are currently under evaluation with the project requiring additional funding or technological solutions to upgrade their speeds to 16Mbps. They will however see an upgrade as the project aims to deliver 2Mbps or more to all home and businesses by the end of 2016 via enhancements to the existing copper network. Currently the most remote homes and businesses, around 12 per cent, receive less than 2Mbps.

Connecting Cheshire expects to announce which areas will be included in the first stage of its roll-out in early December, though there are a range of factors which impact on the viability of the upgrades to fibre. These include issues such as the number and density of premises, the deployment cost and whether eligible small or medium sized businesses would be served, which is a condition of the project’s European funding.

Bill Murphy, managing director of BT Next Generation Access, said: “We’ve made great progress planning our network for Cheshire but, with a programme of this size, it’s not possible to upgrade every area at the same time.”

“We are going to be working as hard as we can to bring more fibre to more people over the next two years.”

BT’s network will be available to all internet service providers and so Cheshire households and businesses will benefit from a highly-competitive market which will bring greater choice and lower prices.

To view the Connecting Cheshire broadband rollout and coverage map, visit www.connectingcheshire.org.uk and click the Check Availability tab.

Chester Intelligencer reporter, Sean Lunt

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