RUTLAND County Council has finalised a £3m deal that will bring faster broadband to at least 90 per cent of residents by the end of 2013.
Council leader Coun Roger Begy and chief executive Helen Briggs were joined by managing director of BT’s next generation access scheme, Bill Murphy, to sign the contract at a press conference at Oakham Castle today (Tuesday).
The council plans to borrow £1.5m to fund the project, which should bring download speeds of up to 80MB per second to more than 90 per cent of homes and businesses by the end of next year. More remote locations will get speeds of between 2MB and 24MB. Current users get speeds of between 2MB and 10MB.
BT will contribute £800,000 to the scheme, with a further £710,000 coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme.
Coun Begy called it a “special” day for the county. He said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for Rutland. Those who have never lived in a rural area won’t realise quite what fast broadband will bring.
“Homeowners will have the ability to download films on demand. It is going to be great for businesses. It is absolutely vital that there is a fast internet connection for both national and international sales.
“I believe this initiative will put Rutland in a position to attract more business and employment. If we don’t have it we are at a competitive disadvantage.”
The project is part of BT’s Openreach scheme and will allow as many as 60 internet service providers to offer packages to residents through new fibre optic cables, giving them a wealth of choice. Speeds of up to 300MB per second will be available to residents in certain areas on demand.
Mr Murhpy, who has been working with the council to bring faster broadband to Rutland for two years, said: “This is all about making Rutland more attractive, allowing people to work from home, keeping businesses here and allowing them to grow. It has the potential to affect everyone in the county.
“I hope from tomorrow the county will be known as ‘Digital Rutland’.
“You have put yourselves in a leading position and we will make a lasting mark on the county.
“I want to say thank you to the leadership of Rutland for allowing us the opportunity to provide faster broadband to the vast majority of the county.
“We won’t be satisfied until we get to 100 per cent.”
Rutland MP Alan Duncan watched the contract signing from his London office via webcam. The slow speed of the video link highlighted the need for more extensive broadband, said Mr Duncan.
He added: “We want to see more businesses in Rutland and we can’t do it without higher bandwidth.
“We want to see more education opportunities open up but without fast broadband we are held back.”
Are you crying out for faster broadband? Have your say on what you think better broadband will do for the county by contacting the newsroom