Super-fast broadband bid

A £27.67 million project to transform broadband speeds for thousands more businesses and residents across Derbyshire has been announced.

Derbyshire County Council, which has spearheaded the Digital Derbyshire programme, has signed a contract with phone giant BT to make fibre broadband available to a further 88,000 premises across the county, bringing it to more than 95 per cent of homes and businesses by 2016.

The project aims to ensure that the remaining premises will also see an uplift in speed and deliver a minimum of 2Mbps to almost all homes and businesses, fast enough to use online services.

County council leader Councillor Anne Western said: “The contract signing is without doubt the most important step of the Digital Derbyshire project so far. It’s vital that our businesses – including those in rural locations – are at least on a level playing field with other areas of the UK and further afield to be able to maintain and create jobs in a thriving Derbyshire economy.”

BT is contributing £12.87m to the project while Derbyshire County Council is contributing £4.9m. A further £7.4m is coming from the Government’s BDUK funds, as well as £2.5m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The first areas are predicted to be upgraded in 2014.

‘Fibre to the Cabinet’ will be the main technology deployed, which delivers wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps, and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. ‘Fibre to the Premises’ technology – delivering ultra-fast wholesale speeds of up to 330Mbps – will also be deployed.

A spokesperson said: “The new fibre-based network will be open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis. Households and businesses will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market.”

Nottinghamshire County Council announced a £20m project with BT to extend high-speed broadband to 95 per cent of Nottinghamshire homes and businesses by end of March 2016.

The move has been welcomed by D2N2, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. D2N2 Chairman Peter Richardson said: “To hear the announcements is really pleasing and a huge step forward for the D2N2 area. From the very first business breakfasts that we held earlier this year, we were hearing stories of the importance for this to be implemented, especially from small businesses in rural areas.