A MAJOR boost for the county’s tourism industry and local people has arrived in the Lake District.
Connecting Cumbria has made faster fibre broadband available to Windermere and Bowness – nine months ahead of schedule.
The area has become the first place in the Lake District to be connected to the new fibre optic network.
Nearly 2,000 homes and businesses are now able to access it, and this figure will rise to around 4,000 when engineers complete the upgrade work in the coming weeks.
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron joined representatives from Cumbria County Council, BT, the Lake District National Park Authority and businesses in welcoming the development.
“Broadband is vital to local communities and will make a massive difference,” he said. "I’m delighted that the funds that we have been able to secure from the Government are now being spent on connecting residents in the Lake District.”
Among the local firms looking forward to using high-speed fibre are Windermere Lake Cruises and Mountain Goat.
Nigel Wilkinson, managing director of Windermere Lake Cruises, said: “High-speed fibre broadband will have a transformational impact on our business systems. Until now we have been unable to benefit from the opportunities presented by cloud computing, and due to the very limited upload speeds available even facilities as basic as remote back-up simply haven’t been possible.”
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And Peter Brendling, commercial director at Mountain Goat Ltd, added: “Like most companies, a large number of our bookings now come through the internet. It is therefore imperative that we have fast and reliable broadband.”
Cumbria County Coun Jo Stephenson, deputy leader of the council and member for Windermere, added: “I’m delighted that homes and businesses in Windermere can enjoy high-speed broadband much sooner than originally planned.”
Bill Jefferson, LDNPA chairman and Connecting Cumbria partnership board member, said: “Hopefully they will see immediate benefits of this fundamental digital age technology, which I am certain will be completely transformational for small and medium sized businesses across the park.”
The 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.
It is jointly funded by Cumbria County Council, BT, and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme, with additional funding from Europe.