Thursday, November 28, 2013

News: BT bolsters borough's broadband

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The well-intentioned but ultimately disastrous Digital Region project may have decided to close but it has seemingly succeeded in prompting the private sector to invest in its local broadband infrastructure.

The aim of Digital Region was to bring continuous 25mb+ broadband to over 97% of South Yorkshire, including 550,000 homes and 1.3 million people. Work on installing the network started in 2009, and by 2012, completion of phase one of the project saw 80 percent of homes and businesses within South Yorkshire able to be linked to the network.

The project was wholly owned by the now defunct Yorkshire Forward and the four local authorities of South Yorkshire but earlier this year the remaining shareholders agreed to halt their search for a private sector partner and begin a managed closure of the fibre optic network.

Now Openreach, BT's local network business, has said that it is committed to a major investment in high-speed fibre broadband throughout Rotherham, and that by the end of next year more than 80,000 local homes and businesses will be able to benefit from BT's £2.5 billion fibre broadband roll-out programme.

Currently more than 65,000 homes and businesses in the Rotherham area can access BT's network which is available on an open, wholesale basis to all companies offering broadband services.
Inspecting the new Moorgate Street cabinet, Rotherham MP, Sarah Champion, said: "To ensure Rotherham's future success we need the right building blocks in place. One of these is having the digital technology to support our people and economy. Super-fast fibre broadband will transform the business sector and attract new inward investment.

"Hundreds of new jobs and business start-ups are expected to be created. With access to fibre broadband, local firms can explore new ways of working and speed up vital operations, to boost their ability to compete."

Research carried out for BT by Regeneris Consulting suggests that in the next 15 years super-fast broadband could give the economy of a typical town a £143m boost, create around 225 new jobs and 140 business start-ups.

Rotherham is also able to access the superfast mobile 4G network. Last week, network operator, O2, switched on its own 4G network in the town. This follows on from Rotherham becoming one of the first areas to get access to rival firm, EE's 4G network in March.

BT Openreach website

Images: BT Openreach

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