Month: December 2013

Holmes Chapel celebrates ‘Super Switch-on Day’ as super-fast fibre broadband goes live

Additional super-fast broadband has arrived in Holmes Chapel, Connecting Cheshire announced today. Around 300 of homes and businesses will now have access to the high-speed technology as the first cabinet to be funded by the project was ‘switched on’, in Holmes Chapel, by community, BT and Connecting Cheshire representatives.

The switch-on is part of a national initiative, which sees green fibre broadband cabinets in many parts of the country ‘going live’ simultaneously today.

‘Super Switch On Day’ marks the progress of super-fast broadband partnerships with Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) – the government agency providing £780m in public funding to extend super-fast broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017.

Holmes Chapel is just one of a number of towns and villages up and down the country that today join the 200,000 premises in mostly rural locations around the UK that are already enjoying access to faster fibre broadband speeds as a result of the BDUK programme.

The national rollout is accelerating, with many projects already ahead of schedule. Already 10,000 premises per week are gaining access to high speed fibre broadband, and this will increase to 25,000 per week in spring 2014, ramping up to 40,000 per week by summer 2014.

Cheshire is one of 19 out of 44 BDUK partnerships across the UK that today have ‘live’ fibre broadband cabinets.

Connecting Cheshire, a partnership between four Cheshire councils and BT, builds on BT’s own commercial roll-out of fibre broadband in the county so that per cent of 96%  homes and businesses will have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2015.

The further roll-out of fibre broadband in Holmes Chapel was welcomed by the Government’s communications minister Ed Vaizey, who said: “The switching on of more super-fast broadband in Holmes Chapel is great news for both local residents and businesses. Today’s announcement is just part of a transformation of broadband services happening throughout the UK. Broadband is an essential part of Cheshire’s present and future. It is vital that we embrace this latest generation of technology in order for our economy to remain competitive.”

Councillor David Brown, Deputy Leader of Cheshire East Council, on behalf of the Connecting Cheshire Partnership said: “This is an important step forward. High-speed access to the internet has never been more important whether you are a local businessperson wishing to build your company, a student taking advantage of online training and carrying out research or a householder making use of on-line shopping and entertainment.

“In today’s rapidly-moving world, fast and sophisticated communications are absolutely vital. They are an essential part of future success.”

Holmes Chapel will be joined by more than 15,000 homes and businesses across the county who will have access to high-speed fibre broadband speeds in the coming months as a result of the multi-million Connecting Cheshire’s first-phase deployment project.

BT is contributing £9m towards connecting Cheshire’s fibre deployment while the Connecting Cheshire Partnership is contributing £1.85m, with a further £4m coming from BDUK funds and £13.6m from European Regional Development Funds (ERDF)*

Mike Blackburn, BT’s regional director for the North West, added: “All over the country fibre broadband is changing people’s lives. It provides a digital gateway to a wealth of opportunities whether it is supporting how we work, how we learn, how we communicate with friends and family or how we entertain ourselves.

“Access to high-speed broadband is rapidly becoming a key ingredient for economic growth and is also a major determining factor in where businesses decide to locate.

“Fibre broadband opens up a whole raft of leading edge software applications that could benefit business – allowing them to work more efficiently, for people to work when and where they want to, to expand their business offerings and to connect with customers, not just locally but all over the world.”   The benefits are also considerable for businesses, which can do much more in far less time. Firms can speed up file and data transfers, collaborate with colleagues and customers on conference or video calls or swap their hardware and expensive software licenses for files, processing power and software from cloud computing. Staff can work as effectively from home as they would in the office.

The additional fibre broadband coverage has been enthusiastically welcomed by local businesses on the nearby business park, including Morreys Hardware, This Little Piggy Went and The Stove Yard.

Morreys of Holmes Chapel

Morreys is an independent family-run hardware and DIY store, a third generation family business that has been trading for over 150 years in Holmes Chapel. Having only recently relocated from the high-street to the nearby business park, it is keen to move with the times and exploit the benefits of faster broadband and digital technology.

Andrew Maddock, Morreys Manager, said: “The arrival of fibre broadband will be the catalyst for us to really make the most of e-commerce and to reach more customers but retain the high standard of customer service that we have always offered.

“We have already seen the benefits of using social media to help us promote via Facebook some of the long-forgotten stock we found when we moved premises and I’m amazed at how much interest there’s been in stuff we thought no one could possibly want, such as old mower blades and spare parts.”

The Stove Yard

The Stove Yard is one of the UK’s leading retailers of Wood Burners and Multi-fuel Stoves. Having begun life in Cheshire as an online retailer it currently has two specialist stove showrooms, one in Holmes Chapel and one in Northern Ireland.   Marketing director and founder Geoff Royle said:“Broadband speeds on our business park have been getting particularly slow as more companies move to internet trading, so the boost in speed and service continuity we’ll all receive from fibre will be a huge benefit.

“The Stove Yard is investing heavily in e-commerce and being able to update our three websites quickly will save time and enable us to be much more efficient and responsive to customer expectations. Video content is extremely important to us now so uploading these speedily to show customers our stoves in action is not only a great sales tool but reinforces our internet credibility and with it customer trust.”

This Little Piggy Went

Mark Tyson and his wife Jayne run a family catering business specialising in hog roasts and all types of outside catering, including weddings, business catering and street food markets for 30 to 600 guests.

Mark said: “We’re just too busy to spend time on lots of paperwork, so we developed our own paperless ordering and invoice system using the cloud. Our online ordering and enquiry facility feeds into our iPads and iPhones by wifi, so I can always pick up orders wherever I’m working. Fibre broadband will really speed this all up allowing us to spend more time with our family and provide a more efficient service to our customers.”

Openreach engineers will install the fibre network which will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis.  Households and businesses will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices.

Holmes Chapel celebrates ‘Super Switch-on Day’ as super-fast fibre broadband goes live [PDF 212kb]

Pictured: First Cabinet Switch-on Left to Right
Steve Ranger – Chairman Holmes Chapel Parish Council; Julian Cobley – Project Director Connecting Cheshire; Mike Blackburn – BT North West Regional Director; Cllr David Brown – Deputy Leader Cheshire East Council; Cllr Les Gilbert – Dane Valley Ward; Lesley Kellett – BT Business Development Manager and Daniel Hague – Openreach Senior Project Manager, Cheshire.

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First communities to benefit from Connecting Cheshire’s multi-million pound fibre broadband roll-out are announced

More than 15,000 premises are set to benefit from the first phase of investment in brand new fibre broadband networks across Cheshire, it was announced today.

From the end of March 2014 onwards high-speed broadband will become available in over 30 mainly outlying and rural communities across Cheshire including Alderley Edge, Hale Bank, Kelsall, Peover, Tarporley, Weaverham and Westwood near Warrington.

During the first phase, faster fibre broadband will be available for the first time in the following communities, where the majority of homes and businesses will be able to connect to the new network:

Cheshire East Council

  • Acton
  • Alderley Edge
  • Allostock
  • Aston
  • Brereton Green
  • Cranage
  • East of Crewe*
  • Holmes Chapel*
  • Hough
  • Nantwich*
  • Peover
  • Plumley
  • Twemlow Green
  • Warmingham
  • Wrenbury
  • Wybunbury

Cheshire West & Chester Council

  • Acton Bridge
  • Barton
  • Central Chester*
  • Christleton
  • Clutton
  • Davenham
  • Great Mollington
  • Guilden Sutton
  • Kelsall
  • Lach Dennis
  • Norley
  • Tarporley
  • Tarvin
  • Tattenhall
  • Weaverham
  • Wincham

Halton Borough Council

  • Central Runcorn*
  • Halebank
  • Weston

Warrington Borough Council

  • Central Warrington*
  • Dallam
  • Great Sankey*
  • Penketh*
  • Westwood
  • Winwick

* These areas will also see additional fibre roll-out building on the commercial coverage in phase one.

Details of the planned rollout were announced at a briefing held at Oulton Park attended by community representatives, councilors, business leaders and Digital Champions from around Cheshire.

The £28.5m Connecting Cheshire broadband programme will be delivered by Openreach – BT’s local network business to bring fibre broadband to over 80,000 additional premises. This will build on the existing fibre networks already provided by BT’s commercial investment, that will enable 96 per cent of Cheshire premises to access high speed broadband over the lifetime of the programme.

Maps and coverage information are available to provide greater detail on the areas that can expect fibre coverage to arrive under the first phase.

Additional information is now also available showing the proposed timescales for areas in the second and third phase of the programme, which are expected to see fibre availability from summer 2014 onwards for phase two, and from winter 2014 onwards for phase three. Local residents and businesses can check their coverage to find out more.

Bringing fibre to Cheshire is a massive engineering challenge for BT, with a team of over 100 planners and engineers working to upgrade exchanges and networks including laying more than 875 miles of fibre-optic cable – more than the distance between Lands End and John O’ Groats – by spring 2015. Over 400 new roadside cabinets will also be installed as a new root and branch fibre-optic network is rolled-out.

Councillor David Brown, Deputy Leader of Cheshire East Council, on behalf of the Connecting Cheshire Partnership said: “I am delighted to announce which communities will soon be able to benefit from fibre broadband, I urge everyone to check our maps to see where and when we will be making fibre available.

“We have been working hard for over 3 years to get us to where we are today, this is an exciting time for Cheshire and the beginning of a journey that will see our communications landscape completely transformed.” Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT Group, said: “This is a very exciting step forward for these communities because faster broadband can benefit everyone.

“Whether you’re a small business wanting to stay in touch with customers and suppliers, or parents with children using the internet for homework and playing games, whatever you do online, you can do it much better and faster with fibre broadband.

“Fibre will have a significant impact on the local economy. We know, for example, that small businesses form a key part of the local economy in rural areas.  Faster broadband breaks down the barriers to doing business in the digital world like online trading, which helps to empower those small businesses to find new markets, sell new products, try new models and compete on an equal footing with larger businesses.”

Sir Howard Bernstein, vice chair of the North West European Regional Development Fund local management committee, said: “This programme will help local businesses make the most of superfast broadband, improving performance and helping to create and safeguard jobs.

“It will provide a major boost to the Cheshire economy and the North West European Regional Development Fund programme is pleased to be supporting it financially.”

First communities to benefit from Connecting Cheshire’s multi-million pound fibre broadband roll-out are announced [PDF 201kb]

Connecting Cheshire map showing phases 1-3 with parishes and exchanges [5.42mb]

Connecting Cheshire Project Update – December 2013 [242kb]

Slides from Oulton Park event on 6 December 2013 [3.28mb]

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