Milton Keynes Council, Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council have signed a multi-million pound partnership project with BT which, when combined with commercial deployment across the area, should provide around 91 per cent of local homes and businesses with access to fibre broadband (view press release).
The project will provide a fibre broadband infrastructure to around 33,000 premises, of which around 32,000 will have access to superfast speeds of at least 24Mbps by spring 2016.
On completion of the rollout, the aim is for all premises within Milton Keynes, Central Bedfordshire and Bedford to receive a minimum of 2Mbps but with a vast majority achieving speeds well in excess of this.
The new fibre network will transform broadband speeds across the rural areas. According to Ofcom, the average downstream speed in Milton Keynes is 10.8Mbps, whilst it’s 14.1Mbps and 13.7Mbps in Bedford and Central Bedfordshire respectively.
BT is contributing £6.2m towards the overall cost of deployment in “non-commercial” areas while Milton Keynes Council is contributing £2.4m, Central Bedfordshire Council contributing £1.2m and Bedford Borough Council contributing £0.44m, with £2m coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.
Councillor David Hopkins, Milton Keynes Council Cabinet Member responsible for Economic Development, said on behalf of the local authorities’ Joint Board: “Today’s contract signing is another vital step towards achieving our ambitious goal for local broadband coverage. Good broadband helps economic growth, and businesses and residents have told us that building a better and faster broadband service should be a priority. By signing this new contract, we’re well on the way to making superfast broadband a reality for many more people across the area’s towns and villages.”
The new fibre-based network will be open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis . Households and businesses in Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices from a wide range of service providers. It will also boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for households.
Fibre broadband benefits include users being able to use multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and sending and receiving large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. New fibre services are set to transform the way consumers use the internet, from the simple sharing of pictures and video to enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available on-line.
For local businesses, the fibre network will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications. Big business applications driven by new ‘cloud’ services will be within the reach of enterprises of all sizes. Computer back up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high-quality videoconferencing will become a viable possibility.