Rutland County Council’s deputy leader Terry King (Con) talks about the benefits the Digital Rutland campaign will bring to the county.
During the next 12 months, towns and villages across Rutland will start being able to access high speed broadband based upon fibre technology (known as superfast fibre broadband), with download speeds as high as 80Mbps.
I’m pleased to have this opportunity to tell you a bit more about the council’s Digital Rutland broadband project, a partnership programme between Rutland County Council and BT, to clear up some common misconceptions, as well as letting you know what happens next and how you can get involved.
Our latest news is that Openreach engineers have already started work and are currently surveying broadband infrastructure across Rutland. Using the information from this survey work, we will soon be able to announce the first communities that will receive superfast broadband later this year.
I recently had the opportunity to explain on BBC Radio Leicester that Digital Rutland plans to upgrade all 10 exchanges in Rutland so that the vast majority of our homes and businesses can access superfast broadband. You can find a list of the exchanges on the Digital Rutland website as well as a guide to the areas they cover.
Most properties will get download speeds of up to 80Mbps, and even those in the most hard to reach areas, such as isolated farmhouses and small clusters of properties away from the village centre, will receive at least 2Mbps. This will represent a substantial improvement on what they currently receive, with some currently reporting speeds as low as 0.3/0.4Mbps.
There are three areas not included in the Digital Rutland project - Lyddington (including Thorpe by Water and Stoke Dry), Hambleton and Essendine. The exclusion of these areas is not a decision the council wanted to take, but we are unable to use public funds to upgrade broadband where another broadband provider is already offering a superfast broadband service.
During the last few months, we have repeatedly challenged those rules, set by the European Commission, but their view remains unchanged and we have to accept that we are unable to use council money or national grant funding in these areas. We can understand the frustrations of those residents who have chosen not to sign up with the provider already operating, but I’m afraid to say our hands are tied. Oakham exchange is being upgraded as part of the BT Commercial Rollout.
Finally, I’m often asked what difference superfast fibre broadband will make to those living and working in Rutland. The answer is that with the majority of properties in Rutland currently receiving their broadband connection down copper wires, speeds in some areas are extremely slow.
The introduction of superfast fibre broadband will make it possible for nearly everyone to have better access to online services such as video calling, watching television or movies online, downloading large files and/or music, as well as being enabled for any technological advances that may occur in future years.
Once superfast broadband is available in your area, we advise speaking to your current broadband provider about the services they can offer, as well as comparing the best deals available from other broadband companies.
For more information and the latest news, please visit www.rutland.gov.uk/digitalrutland