Super-fast fibre broadband goes live in Fenland

High-speed fibre broadband is now available to the first homes and businesses in Wisbech, Whittlesey and March, BT announced today.

The news will delight more than 26,000 local households and firms who can now join the high-speed revolution as engineers complete the local investment in the coming weeks.

Wisbech, Whittlesey and March follow many other Cambridgeshire locations, such as St Ives, Cambridge, Peterborough, Huntingdon and St Neots where fibre is already available.

Charlie Shaw, from March, believes he was one of the first in the town to get hooked up to the fibre broadband last week.

“It’s increased my broadband speed by seven-fold,” he said. “I’ve been waiting to get this for a couple of years.”

Dave Hughes, BT’s East of England regional director, said: “BT’s fibre network is expanding rapidly across the East of England bringing a boost for local economies wherever it goes. Research suggests that within 15 years fibre broadband could bolster the economy of a typical town by £143 million and create 225 new jobs, 140 new start-up businesses and 1,000 more homeworkers.

“As more than a million households and businesses have already discovered, fibre broadband opens up a whole new world to internet users. Whatever you’re doing online, you can do it better and faster with fibre. It’s great for education, shopping, entertainment, the social networking we now carry out routinely online and it also offers huge benefits for businesses and public services.

“The arrival of fibre in these areas can really help local firms in these economically challenging times, opening up new ways of working and speeding up vital operations, such as file and data transfers, conferencing and computer back-up, all of which may also help cut costs.”

BT’s fibre footprint currently passes more than 15 million UK homes and businesses. It is expanding all the time and is now due to pass two-thirds of UK premises – around 19 million premises – during Spring 2014, at least 18 months ahead of the original timetable.

Dave Hughes added: “Our ambition doesn’t stop with our commercial roll-out. We’re keen to work with the public sector to extend fibre broadband to the remaining parts of the country that are harder to reach, and in many places like Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk that’s already happening. Reaching two-thirds of the country early will mean we’re well positioned to place an even greater focus on the challenge of the final third.”

This latest announcement is part of BT’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband, which will make the high speed technology available to around 195,000 Cambridgeshire homes and businesses by the end of Spring 2014.

In addition, BT is a major partner in the Connecting Cambridgeshire partnership with Cambridgeshire County and Peterborough City Council councils which aims to extend the technology to 98 per cent of Cambridgeshire premises by the end of 2015.

Noelle Godfrey, Connecting Cambridgeshire programme director, said: “We welcome the news of the roll-out of fibre broadband in Fenland, which is a significant step. The Connecting Cambridgeshire intervention programme is also working with BT to bring better broadband to homes and businesses in those more challenging areas that would not otherwise get it by 2015.

“We know how important it is for our communities and businesses to be able to access good broadband services to create new opportunities, services and growth. Nearly 25,000 people have registered for our campaign showing the strong demand for better broadband across the county and we are on track to make it happen by the end of 2015.”

Openreach, BT’s local network business, is primarily deploying fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology, where the fibre runs from the exchange to a local roadside cabinet. FTTC offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps and could deliver even faster speeds in the future.

From Spring 2013 Openreach aims to start to make fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, where the fibre runs all the way to the home or business, commercially available on demand in areas where fibre broadband has been deployed. FTTP-on-demand will offer the top current download speed of 330Mbps3. According to the regulator Ofcom, the current average UK residential broadband download speed is 12Mbps.

At home, fibre broadband enables a family to simultaneously download a movie, watch a TV replay service, surf the internet and play games online all at the same time. A whole album can be downloaded in less than 30 seconds and a feature length HD movie in less than 10 minutes, whilst high-resolution photos can be uploaded to Facebook in seconds.

For further information on Openreach’s fibre broadband programme visit www.superfast-openreach.co.uk