25,000 Cumbrian homes and businesses can access full fibre broadband

More than 25,000 homes and businesses across Cumbria can now order some of the fastest, most reliable broadband in Europe.

Many people living and working in Arnside, Crosthwaite, Kendal, Dalton-in-Furness, Longtown and Milnthorpe can already benefit from the new technology and in the next 18 months tens of thousands more are set to follow in locations such as Barrow-in-Furness Carlisle, Cleator Moor, Dalston, Kirkby Lonsdale, Penrith, Shap, Ulverston and Walney, as Openreach engineers continue to build the new network across the county.

So far Openreach has already spent around £10 million[1] commercially and in partnership with Cumbria County Council’s Connecting Cumbria programme.

The new ultrafast, ultra-reliable ‘full fibre’ network is up to ten times faster than the average UK broadband connection and around five times more reliable than the old copper-based network it’s replacing but thousands of residents and businesses have yet to upgrade and are not taking advantage of the benefits of the new technology.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach’s Partnership Director for the North West, said: “Research shows that this new network will give businesses an edge and give families and home-workers future-proof connectivity, no matter what life throws at us next.

“Following our earlier work in partnership with Cumbria County Council, our commercial investment across Cumbria continues at pace, and we’re determined to deliver a great service which helps communities to thrive and supports people to work from home easily, keep in touch with their loved ones and build connections and opportunities.”

Planning and building a full fibre network in one of the most challenging geographies in the UK is no mean feat and engineering challenges intensify as engineers reach the more remote rural communities in the county. Engineers also have to ensure that work fits around the farming calendar as well as the busiest times of the tourist season to keep disruption to a minimum. Adding in the constraints of the National Park, lots of very long, thin and winding roads as well as working in one of the wettest locations in the UK, means the teams have to be prepared for every eventuality and work can take much longer than in more urban geographies.

Cllr David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “The value of fast broadband connections to businesses and homes in Cumbria cannot be overstated.  Tourism, the food retail industry, and many other small businesses need quick and reliable connections so that instead of having to search endlessly for customers, the customers find them.  I am delighted that the council’s Connecting Cumbria programme has been able to work collaboratively with Openreach which has helped thousands of local people and businesses benefit from improved broadband speeds, and helps people to stay connected.”

Robert added: “Gigabit-capable broadband can have a huge impact on people’s lives and it’s great for the economy but upgrades aren’t automatic. People need to place an order with their chosen providers to get connected and we’ll do the rest. Our network offers the widest choice of providers such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Zen - which means people have lots of choice and can get a great deal.”

“Even if you already have a decent enough service it’s worth checking if you can upgrade, because full fibre is the future, and it provides the best broadband experience at great value for money. There’ll be no more worrying that your video call freezing, or your files are failing to upload when everyone’s at home competing for bandwidth at the same time.” 

Openreach has announced plans to invest in full fibre broadband for the majority of premises in 30 exchange areas across Cumbria including as part of the company’s plans to reach 25 million UK homes and businesses by 2026. This short video explains what full fibre technology is and you can find out more about Openreach Fibre First build programme here.



[1] Investment figure based on an average build cost of £300 per premises