Month: August 2014

High-speed broadband arrives for 16,000 more homes and businesses across West Cheshire

Connecting Cheshire has announced that a further 16,000 premises now have access to the high-speed technology that can transform lives and businesses.

This brings the total figure across Cheshire to more than 31,000.

The latest areas in West Cheshire to benefit from the expansion of the network include much of Tarporley, Tarvin, Sandiway and Saughall.

They follow parts of Chester, Christleton, Tattenhall, Guilden Sutton, Neston and Weaverham, which went ‘live’ during the spring.

The news comes as the Government today (Friday 8 August) announced that more than one million UK homes and businesses now have access to superfast broadband as a result of the UK wide rollout, the rate at which superfast technology is being rolled out under the programme is rapidly accelerating.

An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 premises are now gaining access every week and the programme will extend superfast broadband to 95 percent of the UK by 2017. Cheshire residents and businesses cancheck availability of fibre broadband on the website. If it is available, they need to contact their internet service provider, shop around for the best deal for them and order an upgrade to fibre broadband.

Connecting Cheshire is a partnership of four councils – Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington – and BT, with additional funding from BDUK and the EU. The £28.5m project will provide fibre broadband to more than 80,000 homes and businesses. This builds on BT’s commercial investment so that 96 percent of Cheshire – around 400,000 premises – will have access to speeds of up to 80Mbps by the end of 2015.

Bryan Evans of Tarvin, near Chester, recently took advantage of the arrival of superfast fibre broadband in his village and has seen his broadband speed rise from around 5Mbps to over 35Mbps. Bryan is taking full advantage of his new service and enjoying the ability to use online video links with friends and relatives, TV catch-up services, follow stock market trends and is a keen eBay user.

He said: “I am much happier with my broadband service since switching to fibre, it is more consistent with no drop-outs and the installation was very simple; the engineer came on the day I arranged with my internet provider and also gave me some helpful advice on how to get the best possible speed by simplifying the wiring in my home. I would definitely recommend upgrading!”

Local Councillor Eveleigh Moore Dutton, who represents Tarporley, said: “Our roll-out is already making a big impact. Many homes and businesses are now taking advantage of the opportunity to upgrade to fibre broadband and seeing how it can bring significant social and economic benefits – and in many cases see a reduction in their costs as broadband charges are falling all the time.”

Mike Blackburn, BT regional director for the North West, said:  “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Openreach engineers in tackling a complex task, a further 16,000 Cheshire homes and businesses can benefit from this faster and more reliable technology. Connecting Cheshire, this dynamic partnership between Councils and BT, really is playing its part in helping to reach the milestone UK wide one million figure announced by the Government today.”

Sir Howard Bernstein, vice chair of the North West European Regional Development Fund local management committee, said: “This programme is already helping local businesses make the most of superfast broadband, improving performance and helping to create and safeguard jobs, it is providing a major boost to the Cheshire economy and the North West European Regional Development Fund programme is pleased to be supporting it financially.”

And following a recent Government announcement the public sector partners within Connecting Cheshire will be working on its Superfast Extension Programme from March 2015, looking to invest a further £4m in superfast broadband infrastructure so that even more areas are connected.

The network, being built by more than 100 planners and engineers at Openreach, BT’s local network business, will be open to all communications providers on an equal basis. Currently more than 140 communications providers offer fibre broadband services over BT’s network. This will enable the people of Cheshire to choose the provider and broadband package that best suits their need. Around 875 miles of fibre-optic cable will be laid and more than 400 new roadside cabinets installed by spring 2015.

Pictured at the Tarporley switch-on are (left to right): Andrew Arditti of Connecting Cheshire; Cheshire West and Chester Councillor Eveleigh Moore-Dutton and Tarporley Parish Councillors Andrew Wallace, Gill Clough, Ken Parker (Chairman) and Richard Statham.

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Better broadband for Cheshire

Please note the consultation closed on Thursday 4 September 2014. Thank you to everyone who responded.

Public Consultation:

The Government is making big decisions on our behalf about which areas of the UK will benefit most quickly from Superfast Broadband. We need to make sure that Cheshire, Halton & Warrington has its voice heard loud and clear.

The Connecting Cheshire Partnership is aiming to extend the availability of Superfast Broadband (of at least 24Mbps) to homes and businesses across Cheshire, Warrington and Halton with the ambition to deliver 99% Superfast broadband coverage by the end of 2017.

Connecting Cheshire is comprised of the local authorities Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Halton Borough Council and Warrington Borough Council.

Access to faster, more reliable broadband is increasingly becoming an essential requirement for both our communities and businesses. It is important that Cheshire, Halton and Warrington is at the top of the agenda when critical decisions are being made in relation to faster broadband roll-out. If they are not, we could fall on the wrong side of a digital divide, particularly in our more remote and rural areas.

Purpose

The Purpose of the Public Consultation is to:

  • Consult telecommunications operators on their existing or planned broadband infrastructure for the next 3 years and;
  • Consult local stakeholders (including businesses, public sector and voluntary groups, communities, groups, and people that live and work in Cheshire, Halton and Warrington) to comment on our plans and priorities.

The consultation closed on Thursday 4th September 2014. We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who took the time to respond and we will keep you informed in future via our website.

Links

Public Consultation document [PDF – 167kb]

Basic Map [PDF – 4.22mb]

NGA Map [PDF – 4.68mb]

Postcode data

Connecting Cheshire is also making available a list of postcodes with their Basic Broadband and NGA state aid classification. [XLSX – 1.16mb]

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Cheshire businesswomen given £75,000 boost to help them grab benefits of new digital technologies

Businesswomen in Cheshire have been given a £75,000 boost to help them take advantage of the latest digital technologies.

Connecting Cheshire has been granted £75,000 from the Government to help women in business across the county learn how to exploit the benefits of faster broadband and digital technology.

Nicky Morgan MP, the Minister for Women, announced Connecting Cheshire was among the successful projects to be awarded funding as part of the Women and Broadband Challenge Fund.

The fund was recently established to help female entrepreneurs and women-led businesses to take advantage of the UK’s broadband infrastructure in order to work more effectively, access new markets and grow business online. A package of specialist support and events will be provided to help Cheshire businesses as part of the project.

Connecting Cheshire, a partnership between BT and Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington councils, which is bringing fibre broadband to 96 per cent of homes and businesses by the end of 2015, was awarded the maximum amount of funding.

Women-led businesses now make up 20 per cent of all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK and the fund aims to help more female-led businesses take advantage of superfast broadband to transform the way they do business or to set up a new business from home.

Working with its partners and organisations across the county, Connecting Cheshire plans to focus on female entrepreneurs in rural and semi-rural areas, that will benefit from the Connecting Cheshire fibre broadband roll-out, as well as female-led businesses in the retail, creative industries and the visitor economy sectors, to ensure they can get the most of the opportunities that digital technology and faster broadband offers.

Councillor David Brown, Deputy Leader of Cheshire East Council, on behalf of the Connecting Cheshire Partnership said: “Fibre broadband and digital technology can offer real improvements and cost savings to businesses.

“We want female entrepreneurs and businesswomen in Cheshire to take advantage of this opportunity and see how they can make the most of new technology to improve the profitability of their businesses and help create new jobs across the Borough.”

Clare Hayward, chair of Make it Macclesfield, said, “We’re living in a digital age and women everywhere can particularly benefit from the power of increased connectivity. In the community and in the business world, the increasing desire for better work/life balance and for greater control over how, when and where we work is often driven by women, this support will help to make this happen for more women across Cheshire.”

Sara Pomfret of SPBS Ltd and Chester Women’s Network in partnership with Ellis & Co Accountants and Business Advisers and Nat West, said: “Whether it be for those businesses needing basic help to get their business on line for the first time or to assist those who already have an online presence, this is an excellent opportunity for women in the Cheshire area to take advantage of a programme which can truly help them work more efficiently and empower them to effectively grow their businesses online.”

Nicky Morgan MP said: “This fund will give women the practical help needed to get their businesses on-line and take advantage of superfast broadband. This will include online mentors, business clubs and training courses so that women all over the country can benefit from the kind of help Campus for Mums is giving.”

In the North West, there is lower than average female self-employment at just five per cent, compared to 6.2 per cent for England (Source: ONS Annual Population Survey 2013, supplied by NOMIS June 2014) and participation rates in the Connecting Cheshire Business Support Programme events has demonstrated that female-owned businesses attending are in the minority.

The project is expected to start in September 2014 and run for six months.

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