Cumbrian Holiday Cottage On The Front Foot Thanks to Ultrafast Broadband


MP Rory Stewart praises Connecting Cumbria efforts to bring faster broadband to rural areas

A holiday business in Cumbria is crediting the arrival of more reliable, ultrafast broadband for bringing their business into the 21st century.

Rutter Falls Self Catering Holiday Cottages, set in the heart of Cumbria’s Eden Valley, benefits from some of the fastest and most resilient broadband speeds in the country, thanks to Cumbria County Council’s successful multi-million pound Connecting Cumbria partnership with BT.

Since the future-proof technology was made available two years ago, it’s helped them run their business more efficiently, and also offer ultrafast broadband to their guests, who are attracted to the local area due to fabulous walks, wildlife and outdoor activities.

Owners Jim and Jane Wilson recently welcomed Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart to their business, near the village of Great Asby, so he could see for himself the benefits of being connected to Openreach’s Full Fibre network.

Jane said: “It was great to spend time with our local MP who I know holds a keen interest in the rollout of faster broadband across the constituency. We’ve not looked back since being connected to the ultrafast network. We can now update our website ourselves, have reliable wi-fi mobile calling, and we manage all of our business banking and finance online, something that’s essential now there are no banks left in nearby Appleby.

“We find our younger guests expect fast broadband to be available everywhere and many ask if it’s available when booking, especially those who need to stay connected to work. We’ve found people staying with us using it for many things, such as looking for up-to-date attraction information; finding places to eat locally and reserving a table; sharing their trip on social media; and even ordering groceries to be delivered to the doorstep when staying in one of our cottages.”

Rutter Falls, two holiday cottages set in a picturesque nature reserve, benefits from ultrafast speeds (up to 330Mbps), thanks to Openreach’s Full Fibre network. With such fast speeds available, people staying there will typically be able to download a 45 minute HD TV show in less than 15 seconds, compared to around three minutes on a superfast broadband connection. Or a two-hour HD movie in 90 seconds, compared to 30 minutes.

Rory Stewart, himself a keen hiker and author of several walking books, said: “Fast and reliable broadband is vital for our rural areas; our small businesses depend upon it and our communities need it. It was a very great pleasure to spend time at Rutter Falls Holiday Cottages and I was fascinated to hear about how Jim and Jane are making the most of their ultrafast broadband connection.

“A lot of important work is taking place as part of the Connecting Cumbria programme and I am delighted to see the continuing success of Openreach’s Full Fibre network. I will continue to push this scheme and I want to see more areas benefit from this cutting-edge technology.”

More than 127,000 homes and businesses have already benefitted from the Connecting Cumbria partnership since it was launched in 2013. The programme aims to make superfast broadband available to 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Cumbria by the end of 2019 and continues to seek further funding to provide services to the last 5 per cent. So far, almost 93 per cent of premises are already covered[1].

Councillor David Southward MBE, from Cumbria County Council said: “The ultrafast broadband connection at the holiday cottages is a great example of what can be achieved by working in partnership and using different technologies. It’s great to think the holiday cottages, in a remote part of our Cumbrian countryside, are running their business using some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK. We know there is more work to do to connect areas yet to be covered by the rollout, and we’re in the process of exploring the option of getting additional further funding to go further.”

Earlier this year it was announced that around 240 new trainee engineers are being recruited by Openreach to work on ultrafast broadband across the North West.

Paul Cretney, Openreach’s Programme Manager for Connecting Cumbria, said: “A huge amount of work is taking place across the UK as Openreach rolls out ultrafast broadband. And it’s proving really popular. Here in Great Asby, local broadband champion Miles Mandelson is on a personal mission to make people aware of the benefits of ultrafast broadband. It was his work that first brought the technology to the attention of Jim and Jane Wilson, and it’s no surprise we’re seeing really high levels of take-up in the local area.”

More information about Connecting Cumbria can be found at connectingcumbria.org.uk

[1]Latest figures – 92.49% - from thinkbroadband.com http://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/cumbria,E10000006