Connecting Cheshire has reached a major milestone in its delivery of high-speed fibre broadband to communities across the county.
The multi-million-pound partnership has just installed its landmark 500th fibre broadband cabinet.
It is the seventh to be installed in Sandbach. It means that more than 690 homes and businesses in the market town can now access the high-speed network – thanks to the programme backed by local authorities, including Cheshire East Council, and BT.
Demand for fibre broadband has been really strong, with around 30,000 homes and businesses taking up the service so far in the Connecting Cheshire area, with more orders being placed every day. This means Connecting Cheshire has one of the highest take up rates in the UK.
To date, the programme has brought fibre broadband within reach of 85,000 homes and businesses in Cheshire and, when combined with BT’s commercial roll-out of the new technology, more than 96 per cent of homes and businesses across the historic county are now able to access fibre broadband.
One Sandbach business already benefitting from the fast speeds is award-winning cake company, Lois’s Little Cake Company.
Owner Debbie Fenton said: “Having superfast broadband at my new shop in Sandbach has made a big difference. I can now manage our website and social media much more easily and offer customers free wi-fi too – so faster broadband really is the icing on the cake!”
Councillor Peter Groves, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member for finance and assets, said: “Reaching this milestone of 500 cabinets has been a tremendous achievement for the Connecting Cheshire project.
“Coupled with the strong take-up by consumers, it demonstrates that many more homes and businesses are now benefiting from faster broadband across every aspect of their lives, not only for work, but also education, training and entertainment.”
Mike Blackburn, BT North West regional director, said: “High-speed fibre broadband helps to ensure that businesses thrive and don’t just survive and helps keep communities connected. Whatever you do online you can do it better with fibre broadband.
“Across Cheshire, BT has made fibre available to tens of thousands of local households and businesses through its own commercial programme and its investment in Connecting Cheshire.
“The highly-successful Connecting Cheshire partnership has worked very hard to reach this significant milestone today and continues to make strong progress.”
To check availability in your area you can visit the Connecting Cheshire website and enter a postcode or a telephone number via www.connectingcheshire.org.uk/check-availability
Connection to fibre broadband does not happen automatically and people must contact their service provider (there are more than 140 of them offering fibre broadband services across the UK) to place an order.
The Connecting Cheshire project was launched in April 2013 and is a partnership of four councils – Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington – and BT.
Its first phase, £28.5m roll-out has been funded by £13.6m from the European Development Fund, £9m from BT, £4m from BDUK with £1.85m provided jointly from the councils. A £6m phase two project will reach a further 10,000 premises by summer 2017.