Latest Staffordshire community connected to fibre through council partnership
Connecting to some of the fastest fibre broadband in the UK through a county council partnership is transforming day-to-day life for people living and working East Staffordshire, providing a timely boost during this Covid period.
Residents of Dunstall Estate have seen their broadband download speeds increase – from around 3Mbps to more than 300Mbps - after they became the final area to benefit from the county council’s Community Fibre Partnership Support Fund (CFPSF).
Engineers from Openreach – the UK’s largest broadband network used by the likes of BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Zen - have built a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) network, which is capable of delivering ultrafast download speeds up to 1 Gigabit and upload speeds of up to 220Mbps
The CFPSF scheme was run by Superfast Staffordshire – the partnership led by Staffordshire County Council, Openreach and the Government’s Building Digital UK (BDUK). It’s thought to be the first local authority-led initiative of its kind. Other communities now benefitting from the scheme are:
- Cotwalton (Stone)
- Brookside Business Park (Eccleshall)
- Cold Norton (Stone)
- Marchington Woodlands (Uttoxeter)
- Rushton Spencer (Biddulph)
- Stretton Mill (Brewood)
- Aston Bank (Stafford)
- Fradswell (Stafford)
While county council funding for the scheme has now come to an end, communities can still benefit from the Government’s Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme.
Homes and businesses in rural areas of Staffordshire could be eligible for funding towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband by pooling their resources and exploring a group scheme such as Openreach’s community fibre partnership programme.
Rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps can use vouchers worth £1,500 per home and up to £3,500 for each small to medium-sized business (SME) to support the cost of installing new fast and reliable connections.
More details can be found at www.gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member responsible for Superfast Staffordshire, Julia Jessel, said: “These rural communities across Staffordshire have been active in approaching us to work together and get them connected to ultrafast broadband speeds. It’s pleasing to see another come on board.
“Fast broadband connection is vital in enabling people to access services from health and education to shopping and leisure. It is also critical for businesses to operate efficiently and effectively. Covid-19 has demonstrated now more than ever its importance, with many employees working from home.
“The CFP Support Fund had enabled communities to come together to fund half of the connection costs to their properties. Superfast Staffordshire then funded the other 50 per cent. While this funding has now ended, we are urging other communities to find out more about the rural gigabit voucher scheme which could get them connected.
“Together with commercial roll-out, the Superfast Staffordshire programme has helped enable 95 per cent of the county to have connectivity and our programme alone means an additional 80,000 Staffordshire properties now have access to superfast broadband. Our commitment to finding solutions for the less than five per cent of properties that are still to connect to faster broadband speeds continues.”
Kasam Hussain, Regional Partnership Director for Openreach in the Midlands, said: “We have a really strong track record on delivering successful partnerships, both here in Staffordshire and across the wider West Midlands. Working with colleagues is a really sensible approach as it helps us to bring high-speed connections to challenging areas that the private sector would have difficulty reaching alone.
“This innovative approach in Staffordshire provided an important new dimension to our own Community Fibre Partnership programme, which is helping hundreds of similar projects across the UK. As a result, more households and businesses will be able to access faster broadband speeds at highly competitive prices from a wide choice of internet service providers.”
Openreach recently expanded its national plans and will now make full fibre broadband available to 4.5 million homes and businesses across the UK by the end of March 2021 – an increase of more than 500,000 premises.
And by the mid-to-late 2020s they want to reach 20 million premises – almost two thirds of the UK – assuming the right conditions to invest are in place. The company recently announced an extension of their build into market towns and villages across the West Midlands – including Cannock and Burton Upon Trent. Earlier this year (January), Little Stoke, Stone and Walton were included in the same programme.
2,600 Openreach people live and work in the West Midlands.
For more information on Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership visit www.communityfibre.openreach.co.uk