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Saturday 16 January 2021

Council sign £4.5 million contract with Airband to roll out full-fibre broadband to residents

Cheshire East is set to receive a much needed connectivity boost from leading broadband provider, Airband.

The project will deliver gigabit-capable, full-fibre broadband connectivity to over 4,000 properties (including local businesses) across rural or hard-to-reach areas within the Connecting Cheshire partnership region, for improved connectivity.

With the support of the remaining European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) backing available to UK authorities, the project will start in early 2021 and is expected to complete deployment by March 2023, which includes Warrington Borough Council, Cheshire West and Chester and Halton Borough Council all taking part.

The implementation of this infrastructure to many underserved, isolated and rural areas will be truly life changing for individuals and business owners. Cost-effective, high-quality, reliable ultrafast connectivity has countless benefits, including better access to services and amenities for individuals, increased productivity and more growth opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has made us more reliant than ever on technology, particularly broadband connectivity. With much of the Cheshire East population working from their homes, the importance of a reliable broadband connection has been thrust into the spotlight.

For individuals living in rural and other hard-to-reach areas of the digital divide, the impact of poor connectivity has been felt acutely. Levelling up this divide, and bringing affordable, high-quality internet services to all is a local priority that the council are keen to implement.

Councillor Nick Mannion, Cheshire East Council’s cabinet member for environment and regeneration, said: “The fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) deal with Airband comes at a key time during the pandemic, to provide optimum connectivity to homeworkers and businesses across Cheshire East.

“The innovative methods to connect hard-to-reach and rural areas will certainly boost work productivity and streaming family entertainment services during national lockdown and beyond. Swifter internet services will help limit many of the frustrations people are facing now, juggling home and work life. It is crucial that everyone has sufficient internet at all hours to suit diverse working patterns and household needs.”

Redmond Peel, founder and director of Airband, said: “We are excited to have won this contract. Our focus has always been on expanding and simplifying digital access for rural communities. With access to high-quality broadband fast becoming a human right, we can’t wait to get started building the network that will give residents of rural and hard-to-reach areas of Cheshire the connectivity they deserve.”

More details of the coverage areas will be published in the coming weeks. In addition, Cheshire East and the Connecting Cheshire partnership are exploring and seeking further solutions for problem connectivity areas that may not be covered by this deployment as part of our plan to provide full connectivity for the borough.

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