The arrival of high-speed fibre broadband is set to deliver a boost for tourism and business in the Lake District town of Keswick, according to research.
Nearly 1,400 homes and businesses in Keswick are now able to connect to faster fibre broadband, thanks to Connecting Cumbria, the £51 million partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT.
This figure will rise to nearly 3,000 when engineers complete the first stage later this summer. This brings the total figure across the county to almost 39,000 under the Connecting Cumbria programme.
This news comes as the Government today announced that more than one million UK homes and businesses now have access to superfast broadband as a result of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rollout. Up to 40,000 premises are now gaining access every week and the programme will extend superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017.
Engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business – have installed six new road-side fibre cabinets in Keswick in this first stage, four of which are already live, to connect local people to the new fibre optic network. Three more are planned in the area later this year, with a further three more to be delivered in 2015.
When an area has gone ‘live’ for fibre, people need to opt for an upgrade and because the network is ‘open’, they have a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 now operating in the UK.
Research for BT carried out by Regeneris says investment in fibre broadband in rural areas of the UK can boost business returns, business start-ups through cloud computing and support for home workers and jobs.
Statistics show small and medium size business form the backbone of the Cumbrian economy with 84 per cent or firms employing fewer than 10 employees and operating from villages, hamlets and isolated properties.
Tourism is the mainstay of the Lake District economy. In common with many rural areas it has taken over from farming as the main source to income. In 2013 tourist revenue was £2,237 million in the County of which almost half, £1,080 million, comes from the National Park where Keswick is situated, according to Cumbria Tourism. Geoff Davies, broadband activist and hub co-ordinator for Keswick and the surrounding parishes, is keen to see the local residents take maximum benefit from the roll-out of fibre broadband.
He said: “The availability of fibre broadband to the Keswick area will significantly improve the internet speed that residents can access, offering a more reliable service free from the frustrations of buffering and slower speeds at times of peak demand. I would encourage people to contact their internet service provider to enquire about availability and to shop around for the best options for connection to make the most of the deals currently available.”
Cumbria county councillor Andrew Lysser said: “While Keswick competes extremely well on the world stage, high-speed broadband gives us the opportunity to maintain and improve our position in tourism, commerce and education. Congratulations BT for your persistent hard work to make this happen.”
Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said: “The Connecting Cumbria programme is making strong progress, bringing high-speed fibre broadband to some of the most challenging areas. The programme shows the power of the public and private sectors working together. BT has brought technical expertise to the table as well as millions of pounds of investment and, if we can go further, we will do so. This exciting technology is providing a major boost for local households and businesses whether they are using it to work more efficiently and find new customers or for online learning and leisure.”
The Connecting Cumbria partnership, which builds on the commercial investment of BT and other providers, will ensure at least 93 per cent of Cumbrian homes and businesses can access high-speed fibre broadband by the end of 2015.
Once an area has been enabled people can get download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps. It’s an ‘opt in’ service and because the Openreach network is ‘open’, people can choose from a number of different fibre broadband providers, ensuring competitive prices and products.
For business support in Cumbria go to www.bigcumbria.com for advice on free services such as training workshops, skills master classes and business development events.
These will demonstrate how faster broadband helps develop business and increases profits by maximising efficiency and productivity.
For further information on the Connecting Cumbria programme visit www.connectingcumbria.org.uk