The Black Country Broadband Project delivered some seasonal cheer with news that more than 6,000 businesses and households are now able to access high-speed fibre broadband thanks to the ambitious programme, lead partners Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and BT announced today.
Parts of Dudley, Walsall, Wednesbury, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton are among the latest areas to benefit.
They include: the St Matthew’s area of Walsall, East Park, south Darlaston, Friar Park, Charlemont with Grove Vale, Halesowen North, Hateley Heath, Heath Town, Blackheath, Langley, Rowley, Bristnall, St Paul’s, Tividale and parts of Oldbury.
As part of the roll-out, engineers have so far installed more than 90 fibre broadband road-side cabinets, which are needed to enable local premises to connect to the new network.
Because the network is being rolled out by engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business – residents and businesses opting for an upgrade can choose from a wide range of broadband service providers, with more than 140 providers currently operating in the UK.
Work has already started on the second phase of the roll-out, which will extend the reach of the technology to parts of Brierley Hill, Dudley, James Bridge, Streetly, Tipton and Willenhall, from January 2016 onwards.
Ninder Johal, Chair of the Black Country Broadband Group and a Board Member of the Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "Small businesses across the Black Country identified slow broadband speeds as a barrier to growth so reaching the 6,000 milestone will bring a terrific boost to the local economy. The Black Country LEP aims to deliver a minimum 98 per cent high-speed fibre broadband by the end of June 2017 and in doing so support businesses and individuals to connect to and make the most out of the internet.”
Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director of next generation access, said: "Christmas is a great time to be making this exciting technology more widely available and to reach this important milestone. Whatever you do online you can do it better with fibre broadband. It helps firms to share information with their customers and suppliers more easily, which is especially important at this busy time of the year when deadlines can be more demanding than usual.
"Shopping online and browsing is so much easier using fibre broadband and for people wanting to combine use of increasingly popular services like ‘click and collect’ with trips to the high street. Fibre broadband enables several people in a household to be online at the same time, so children can play games or do their homework, without affecting mum and dad streaming videos, watching catch-up television or uploading photos.”
The Black Country Broadband project was launched to bring fibre broadband to areas of the region that are not already able to access faster fibre broadband as a result of any commercial roll-outs.
For more information on the Black Country Broadband Project visit www.blackcountrylep.co.uk/place/broadband-plan