Connecting Cheshire - January 2015 Newsletter

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Connecting Cheshire has announced a multi-million pound boost to its roll-out of superfast fibre broadband, which will result in the technology becoming available to thousands more homes and businesses. Another 10,000 Cheshire homes and businesses are expected to have access to fibre broadband by summer 2017 as a result of the £6m project signed between four Cheshire councils and BT for a second phase "Superfast Extension Programme".

It is expected to take fibre broadband coverage in Cheshire to more than 400,000 homes and businesses when BT's commercial roll-out of the technology is also taken into account.

It was revealed at a signing ceremony that BT had won the contract to extend the superfast network across the county. Work will start on the planning of the additional network in autumn 2015. The money has come from Government, and Cheshire councils and it will be supplemented by funding from BT.

Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Access for BT, which is contributing some £1.7m towards the new programme, said: "BT has always said there is more to do in Cheshire truly to encourage businesses and residents to create the connected communities they want and deserve. So we are delighted to be given the chance to give a further 10,000 Cheshire homes and businesses the opportunity to invent a new, more prosperous future."

The fibre broadband network built by Connecting Cheshire, a partnership of four Cheshire councils, BT and the European Regional Development Fund, will give thousands access to this ground-breaking technology. More than 48,000 premises have already been passed out of a total of 80,000 covered by the first phase of the Connecting Cheshire programme which will finish at the end of 2015.

And, in part of this second phase, more than £600,000 from the Rural Community Broadband Fund will be targeted at especially difficult places to reach in Cheshire. Connecting Cheshire has just finished a consultation to pinpoint the areas to be included in this part of the programme. Further announcements about the areas with additional coverage will be made during 2015 once the network planning and design phase has been completed by BT. Fibre broadband, which can boost the competitiveness of businesses, helping them to grow and work more efficiently, also helps people to work from home and to set up businesses from home. It was hailed by Cheshire's Tatton MP, The Rt Hon George Osborne, in a broadband launch last month at Lower Peover, as "helping to reinvent the rural economy".

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