BT said it will spend an extra £3.4m rolling out high-speed broadband telecoms connections across Cheshire after experiencing higher than average take-up of services delivered to date in the Connecting Cheshire initiative.
Faster fibre services have been taken up by 30% of the 85,000 residents and businesses in Cheshire where the network has been delivered.
The dditional funding is being made available by BT to Connecting Cheshire earlier than planned to reinvest in further superfast broadband coverage to more locations. When the private sector’s commercial rollout is taken into account, 96% of the county is able to connect to the new fibre broadband network, BT said. Phase two of the programme will give a further 10,000 households and firms access to superfast broadband by summer 2017.
Steve Edwards, BT Group director for next generation access, said: “The fibre broadband roll-out is a real success story, and we’re delighted to be able to share that success with Cheshire by making £3.4m available to help connect some of the hardest to reach homes and businesses. The open network being rolled out brings real choice to communities, who are able to choose from a wide range of internet service providers, and this is helping to drive take-up which is key to the programme’s future.”
Cllr David Brown, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council on behalf of the partnership, said: “This is great news for Cheshire and a reflection of how many homes and businesses are upgrading to faster broadband; this additional investment will allow us to reach further towards 100% coverage, particularly in our rural areas, where the lowest speeds are most prevalent.”
The £3.4m is being made available as a result of a ‘success dividend’ in the first phase of the Connecting Cheshire programme that allows revenue received from fibre connections to be reinvested over a number of years in further coverage if take-up by local households and businesses is better than the 20% expected at the beginning of the rollout. The higher take-up rate to date means that the partnership now expects to reach at least 30% take-up.