£3.4 million boost to Cheshire’s high speed broadband rollout

Cheshire’s digital revolution has had a multi-million pound boost to extend the reach of high speed fibre broadband across the county.

The £3.4 million boost to Connecting Cheshire, the partnership between four Cheshire Councils and BT which has already made fibre broadband available to an additional 85,000 premises, is a ‘success dividend’ due to higher than expected take-up of the service by local households and businesses.

The money is being made available by BT to Connecting Cheshire much earlier than planned to reinvest in further superfast broadband coverage to even more locations.

When the private sector’s commercial rollout is taken into account, 96 per cent of the county is already able to connect to the new fibre broadband network.  And the partnership has just announced phase two of their programme which 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 £3.4 million 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 per cent fibre coverage, particularly in our rural areas, where the lowest speeds are most prevalent.”

The £3.4 million 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 per cent* 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 per cent take-up.