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Superfast West Yorkshire hits the halfway mark30,000 homes and businesses can now access fibre broadband as part of the Superfast WY project.
Superfast West Yorkshire has passed the halfway mark with more than 30,000 homes and businesses now able to connect to high-speed fibre broadband as a direct result of the programme.
The multi million pound roll-out is progressing at pace and is expected to reach a total of 36,463 premises by the end of 2014.
In April this year The Old Fountain Brewery housing estate in Halifax became the first area to benefit from the superfast technology thanks to the project. Now homes and businesses in many more West Yorkshire communities, including Barwick-in-Elmet, Cullingworth, Hunslet and Crofton can take advantage of the benefits high-speed fibre broadband brings – with speeds of up to 80Mbps*.
Engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, have been keeping busy - laying 291 kilometres of fibre optic cable – enough to stretch right across the county from Hebden Bridge to Knottingley five times.
A total of 49 exchange areas have been upgraded along with the installation of 320 new green fibre cabinets. Over 200 of those cabinets are now ready for service with hundreds of people already taking advantage of fibre as it becomes available.
A number of areas, which previously had no fibre broadband at all, have now been connected for the first time including around 15,000 premises in the communities of Collingham Bridge, Hipperholme, Ilingworth, Sowerby Bridge, Steeton and Thorner.
Jenny and Stuart Wilkinson, from Garforth, recently upgraded to superfast broadband and have already seen a dramatic difference to the amount of time they save with faster speeds. Both Jenny and Stuart can now work from home with ease, even if the children are on the ipad or laptop.
Jenny said: “Superfast broadband has made a huge difference in my life. It has bought me more time, which as a working mum is very precious. As a family we are able to all be online at the same time with no worry of buffering or slow connection speeds. The children are on the ipad or laptop and we are paying bills online, or skyping friends in Dubai with no problem.
Ian Gray, chair of the Superfast West Yorkshire project board, said: “We are progressing well the with Superfast West Yorkshire project and it is a real achievement to have passed our half way mark ahead of schedule.
“There is still more work to do, but we can go into 2015 with a head start and continue to deliver faster broadband across West Yorkshire.
“It is great to hear so many stories like that of Stuart and Jenny who are already seeing such a difference from upgrading to newer technology. No doubt many families saw new tech enter the household over this Christmas, so I would urge people to look at whether they too can benefit from superfast broadband.”
Tom Keeney, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and Humber, said: “The Superfast West Yorkshire programme has made substantial gains since the first fibre cabinet went live back in April this year and it is exciting to hear about the real benefits that people are already experiencing from having this technology.
“In the modern world digital connectivity is the “fourth utility” alongside gas, electricity and water. From children doing their homework to caring for our elderly population and from social media, to e-commerce and home entertainment – fast broadband is the critical enabler.
“People should also remember that superfast does not mean super-expensive. A recent Ofcom report found the difference between rental for traditional and new superfast broadband to be very small, ranging from £5 t0 £10 a month.”
Superfast West Yorkshire builds on BT’s commercial investment of £2.5 billion to rollout fibre broadband to two-thirds of UK premises. Leeds City Council, Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Wakefield Council and Calderdale Council are working with BT to extend high-speed fibre broadband to 97 per cent of households and businesses across the majority of West Yorkshire by the end of 2015. The programme also aims to ensure all premises in this area have access to speeds of more than 2Mbps.
The £21.96 million investment is made up of Government funding from BDUK combined with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), BT and four West Yorkshire local authorities.
The new network is available on open, wholesale basis to all broadband service providers, thereby ensuring competitive products and pricing for local businesses and households There are currently more than 140 fibre broadband providers operating in the UK.
Residents and businesses across West Yorkshire who want to keep up to date with progress of the roll-out are encouraged to register their interest. This will enable the Superfast West Yorkshire team to send out updates on the project and identify areas of high demand. More than 5,553 businesses and residents across West Yorkshire have already registered their interest through the website www.superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk.
A Business Support Programme has also been launched together with Kirklees Council. This programme will demonstrate the benefits of high speed internet with targeted support and information to help businesses turn faster broadband speeds into business growth.
*These are the top wholesale speeds available ISPs may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP
1A map showing the area of West Yorkshire covered by this project can be found at www.superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk/coverage
BT was awarded the contract following a procurement exercise through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework.
The Superfast West Yorkshire programme is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf
 UK Fixed-Line Broadband Performance, Ofcom Report, November 2012.
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