Fast broadband available to 90,000 premises as Connecting Cheshire completes latest phase

Connecting Cheshire celebrated the completion of its six-year multi-million pound superfast broadband programme with the ceremonial switching on of the final broadband cabinet to ‘go live’ as part of the roll-out.

The new fibre cabinet in Windle Hill, near Neston is the last of more than 650 cabinets to be installed as part of the programme – and also one of the most difficult the engineering team have tackled to date.

Thanks to the programme, which is led by the four Cheshire local authorities and Openreach, more than 95 per cent of Cheshire can now access superfast broadband speeds when private sector commercial roll-out of fibre broadband is also taken into account.

Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Growth at Cheshire West and Chester Council said: 

“This is a significant step forward in the campaign to deliver full and fast digital connectivity across Cheshire. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses in our borough now have access to fibre connections, releasing the huge advantages that faster broadband speeds can bring.

“There are now so many things that families can do in the home including remotely controlling their heating, lighting and security cameras - all powered by broadband.

“Businesses are benefitting from cloud-based services as well as making efficiency improvements and cost savings through improved online sales and marketing, and better online ordering and invoicing systems.

“We recognise that there are some rural communities where there is still more to do, but I would encourage all residents to check if fibre is available to them and then shop around for the best price.”

Since work began on the Connecting Cheshire programme in 2013, engineers from Openreach, have enabled nearly 1,000 fibre structures, and installed thousands of kilometres of fibre optic cable – enough to stretch the length of England and back at least twice.

In the latter parts of the roll-out there has been an increased focus on building Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology. Not only is FTTP quick - speeds of up to 1Gbps (Gigabit per second) mean you can download a two-hour HD movie in 25 seconds – it’s also future-proof and more reliable.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach partnership director, said:

“I am proud to be part of the team that’s delivered one of biggest feats of civil engineering undertaken in Cheshire in recent years. It’s ironic that this broadband cabinet – the last to go live - has also been one of the most difficult to complete. It has taken almost two years of working with multiple organisations including Cheshire West and Chester’s Highways Agency, Scottish Power, landowners our contractors and the residents themselves, who have been very patient while we battled through multiple and extremely complex wayleave and power issues. Without this close collaboration this cabinet would not be live today.

“The Connecting Cheshire team and all the Openreach engineers who have worked to make this happen should be very proud of their achievement and for the overall success of the programme.”

Locations in Cheshire not currently included in any existing fibre broadband rollout plans may be eligible to apply for additional funding from the government’s Building Digital UK (BDUK) voucher schemes to put towards the cost of bringing faster broadband speed to their community.

Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership scheme can also work with local communities to build a customised fibre solution to bring fibre broadband to homes and businesses. A joint funding arrangement is put in place, whereby Openreach contributes some of the costs and the community funds the rest. Openreach will advise on any grants available from local authorities or Government which could cover or contribute towards the community contribution.