More than 2,000 businesses and homes across the Black Country are now able to access high-speed fibre broadband for the first time.
The important milestone has been achieved as a result of the Black Country Broadband Project, lead partners Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and BT announced today (12 October).
As part of the roll-out, engineers have so far installed more than 20 fibre road-side cabinets, which are needed to enable local people to connect to the new network.
Parts of Walsall, Wednesbury and West Bromwich are among the first areas to benefit from the ambitious roll-out.
They include: the St Matthew’s area of Walsall, East Park, south Darlaston, Friar Park, Charlemont with Grove Vale, Hateley Heath, Blackheath, Langley, Rowley, Bristnall, St Paul’s, Tividale and parts of Oldbury.
SBS Ltd in Wolverhampton was also among the first to upgrade to faster fibre broadband with support from the Wolverhampton and Black Country Broadband Connectivity Voucher Scheme, a grant that enables SMEs, charities, social enterprises and other not-for-profit organisations based in the Black Country to access high-grade connectivity.
Andy Wyer, SBS Ltd said: "Everything is so much easier and faster since we upgraded to fibre broadband. Connection speeds have increased making web interaction much easier and we are able to back up to the cloud on a daily basis which wasn’t previously possible.”
Because the network is being rolled out by engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business – residents and businesses opting for an upgrade have a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 currently operating in the UK.
Work will begin later this year on the second phase of the roll-out, which will extend to areas of Brierley Hill, Dudley, James Bridge, Streetly, Tipton and Willenhall.
Ninder Johal, Chair Black Country Broadband Group, LEP Board member said: "Reaching the 2000 milestone 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. High speed fibre broadband will bring a terrific boost to the local economy supporting 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: "Increasingly the internet is touching our lives in new and exciting ways and transforming virtually everything we do. This is why rolling out faster fibre broadband to more communities is so important.
"Whether people are working from home, applying for jobs, doing online training or running a business, everything is better with high-speed broadband. While at home, fibre broadband enables several people to be online at the same time, so children can do their homework or play games, without interfering with mum and dad doing their online shopping, streaming videos 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 commercial roll-outs.
For more information on the Black Country Broadband Project visit www.blackcountrylep.co.uk/place/broadband-plan