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01/10/2014
£12.2m deal to bring high-speed fibre broadband to the Black Country

Pictured from left:
 Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; Ninder Johal, Chair Black Country Broadband Group & LEP Board member; Bill Murphy, MD Next Generation Access BT; Cllr Ian Jones, Sandwell Council Cabinet Member Jobs & Economy and James Morris, MP Halesowen & Rowley Regis. The sign shows the projected fastest speed of 80 megabits per second.

·   Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport launched The Black Country Broadband Partnership with partners the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, BT and the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. The launch was at Dudley Golf Club, located on top of Turner's Hill in Rowley, with panoramic views of the Black Country.

·  The Project will extend the reach of high-speed fibre broadband to 98 per cent of homes and businesses in the Black Country.

Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, today hailed the official launch of The Black Country Broadband Project, which intends to extend the availability of high-speed fibre broadband to 98 per cent of homes and businesses across Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton in less than three years.
 
Funding for the £12m programme is made up of £2.9 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery (BDUK) programme, £6.4 million from BT and £2.9 million from the Black Country LEP’s Growing Places Fund. Engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network busines, intend to lay new fibre optic cables and upgrade more than 400 road-side cabinets to enable local businesses and residents  to connect to the new fibre broadband network.
 
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Today marks the beginning of an incredible transformation of broadband in the Black Country. Government fully appreciates that access to fast and reliable broadband is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity, which is precisely why we are funding projects like this one all over the UK. As a result of this £12m investment, 98 per cent of the Black Country will be able to access superfast speeds by 2017 and this will provide a terrific boost to the local economy.”
 
Ninder Johal, Chair Black Country Broadband Group and LEP Board member said: "Today’s launch is an important step in delivering our ambition of a minimum 98 per cent high-speed fibre broadband availability by the end of June 2017. Small businesses across the Black Country identified slow broadband speeds as a barrier to growth so this partnership is great news for businesses in our area. The Black Country LEP is the first LEP to contribute funding under the new BDUK programme, which has made this project possible.”
 
Bill Murphy, Managing Director of Next Generation Access for BT said: "Combined investments by BT and other communications providers means high-speed fibre broadband is already available to around 92 per cent of the area – more than 468,000 homes and businesses. Working together, The Black Country Broadband Project will ensure we go further and enable nearly all of the area’s businesses and homes to take advantage of this exciting technology.Fibre broadband enables everyone to do things differently and better. For some it’s a leap of faith to switch from first generation broadband to the new fibre optic technology, but as those local people who are already using it will testify, upgrading is easy and worth doing for a far superior experience.”
 
Businesses will have access to high-speed connectivity, with fibre broadband enabling faster online activities, the benefits of which are considerable: business can do far more in less time, firms can speed up file and data transfers, collaborate with colleagues and customers on conference or video calls or swap their hardware and expensive software licenses for files, processing power and software from cloud computing. Staff can work as effectively from home as they would in the office.
 
The investment in high-speed fibre broadband aims to help businesses across the Black Country to become more competitive and grow their businesses both in the UK and overseas. It will also enable local people to better access a range of public services online, as well as new leisure, educational and training opportunities.
 
The project will begin with several months of planning and survey work by BT before the first services become available towards the end of 2015.

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