Month: August 2015


Connecting Cheshire Fibre Broadband Programme reaches 80,000 properties across Cheshire

Government Minister praises “incredible progress” of the project

The Connecting Cheshire programme has reached a major milestone by ensuring more than 80,000 homes and businesses have access to high-speed fibre broadband.

Six more Cheshire East parishes have recently gone live and the £6m phase two programme will see a further 10,000 properties able to connect by summer 2017.

Prestbury, Smallwood, Bunbury, Faddiley, Marton Heath and Wistaston have now joined the high-speed club as Connecting Cheshire passes its original 80,000 connections target, ending the frustration many customers experience with slow broadband speeds.

The news from Connecting Cheshire follows the Government announcement that its nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now passed more than three million UK homes and businesses. The rollout is on track to reach 95 per cent of the UK by 2017 and is now reaching around 5,000 additional premises every day.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “We are transforming the digital landscape of the UK and our nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now reached an additional three million UK homes and businesses. I congratulate Connecting Cheshire on having reached this milestone in Cheshire so far – they’re making incredible progress.”

Leader of Cheshire East Council, Cllr Michael Jones said: “This additional broadband coverage we have brought to the region, is already making a big impact and helping to keep Cheshire businesses competitive.

“More coverage is coming soon in our phase two roll-out so that we can reach even more premises, especially those in our outlying, rural areas.”

Mike Blackburn, BT regional director for the North West, said: “I am delighted that we have hit the original target of providing fibre broadband to 80,000 homes and business premises across Cheshire.

“We are continuing with the roll-out so that many more users can access the benefits that high speed broadband can deliver to homes, families and the business community.

“BT’s multi-billion pound investment in superfast broadband through its partnerships, including Connecting Cheshire, and its own commercial programme has already made fibre broadband available to more than 23 million homes and businesses nationwide and the number is continuing to grow rapidly. Our engineers are rolling out the technology at a world class pace, reaching thousands more premises every week.”

Connecting Cheshire is one of many partnerships across the country that are rolling out high-speed broadband to communities not included in the private sector’s commercial fibre broadband plans.

High speed broadband users in Cheshire can achieve download speeds of up to 80 megabits and upload speeds of up to 20 Mbps.*

One of those already reaping the rewards is Bongo’s Rock & Roll Pickles, from Norley in Cheshire, who make chilli pickles and chilli condiments. The business was founded by Bongo, AKA Manny Elias, a drummer who was an original member of Tears for Fears and who has recorded with Dolly Parton, Peter Gabriel and Julian Lennon among others.

The business was able to upgrade to fibre broadband in February 2015, resulting in a 30 fold increase in speed, and also benefitted from a package of support from the Superfast Business Programme.

Bongo’s wife Debs, who was instrumental in setting up the business, said: “Slow broadband was holding the business back and turning us into internet monsters! With less than 1Mbps download speeds we were rarely able to update the website or make much use of social media. Since getting fibre, we’ve been able to establish an e-commerce shop on the website and developed a good social media presence with blogs, videos and customer reviews. This is really helping us grow the business.”

The £28.5m partnership between four Cheshire councils, BT, the Government and the European Regional Development Fund was launched in April 2013. When the Connecting Cheshire figures are combined with the commercial rollout by BT and other broadband providers, 96 per cent of the county will be able to benefit from fibre by the end of this year.

To check availability in your area you can visit the Connecting Cheshire website and enter a postcode or a telephone number –

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E is for ‘#Eveolution’ as Cheshire’s business women get Broadband boost

Women entrepreneurs in Cheshire can benefit from a £90k windfall to support a series of free masterclasses around the power of fibre optic broadband for small and medium sized businesses.

The funding has been awarded  to the Connecting Cheshire Partnership and Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub by the Government’s equalities office and will underpin a second phase of a project to help female entrepreneurs to take advantage of superfast broadband and digital technology.

More than 300 female-led businesses benefited in phase one of the scheme.

The second phase will see Connecting Cheshire partner the Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub to deliver an inspirational programme known as ‘#Eveolution’ which will offer help to more than 500 businesses and entrepreneurs through a series of masterclasses offering e-learning and one to one support.

The programme is an element of government policy to encourage more women to become entrepreneurs and to play a greater roll in business.

Less than 20 per cent of small and medium-sized companies are owned or majority owned by women.

The Women’s Business Council predicts greater participation by women could bring about an increase in economic growth of 0.5 per cent, leading to 10 per cent by 2030.

Cheshire East Deputy Leader Cllr David Brown said: “I am delighted we are able to continue the excellent progress we have made in supporting female entrepreneurs.

“This will deliver practical and inspiring support to help new and established female-led businesses to exploit the benefits of superfast broadband and boost their competitiveness.”

Caroline Simpson, Cheshire East Council’s executive director of economic growth and prosperity said: “It is really important that women entrepreneurs take advantage of this initiative. There are many extremely talented women across Cheshire who want a helping hand with technology, knowing that it would make a significant impact on the success of their business.


“The #Eveolution’ programme provides an opportunity for women-led businesses and potential female entrepreneurs to take advantage of faster broadband to expand

or set up new businesses, including home-based enterprises.”

Caroline Dinenage, the Government’s Minister for women, equalities and family justice said: “If women set up business at the same rate as men, there would be 1m more female entrepreneurs.

“I hope that this fund helps women in Cheshire East to take their first step into the business world.”

One business that benefitted from the Phase 1 project was Christine East of Lymm Pet Supplies. Chris was previously an ICT teacher and professional photographer, a love of animals inspired her to start the business with her daughter. When asked if she would recommend the support to others, she responded “Absolutely, we were able to immediately implement new skills into the business which have made a big impact, such as smartphone business apps and see immediate results!”

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