Following a £46million investment from Aviva Investors, Hyperfast broadband provider County Broadband has announced it is commencing the rollout of new full-fibre networks in South Cambridgeshire, creating new opportunities for underserviced communities and businesses.
In the latest major boost to Cambridgeshire’s growing digital economy, County Broadband initially plans to build the new gigabit-capable networks in nine villages in the south of the county with more set to be unveiled later this year.
The announcement follows an initial launch in Essex and Norfolk last year which has seen over 10,000 residents and business owners sign up to receive future-ready digital connectivity with construction well underway in 50 villages.
The rural communities would have some of the fastest internet speeds in the UK at up to 20 times the national average. It follows the government’s flagship pledge for the entire UK to have access to gigabit speeds by 2025 to catch up with the rest of the world and forms part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “infrastructure revolution”.
Lloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, said: “Whilst Cambridgeshire is already ahead of some parts of the country when it comes to full-fibre broadband, there is still a long way to go as many communities and businesses still rely on an outdated, copper-based infrastructure.
“Changing consumer habits and increased data reliance from the rise of online streaming, combined with an increasing number of services from health to education moving online means that future-ready internet connectivity is now an essential. The installation of Hyperfast full-fibre networks will provide a real boost to the regions’ economy and unlock new growth opportunities for businesses and attract new investment opportunities.”
According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the deployment of full-fibre broadband would be worth £5.38bn to the East of England economy over the next five years.
Welcoming the announcement, Councillor Ian Bates, Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee which oversees the Connecting Cambridgeshire digital connectivity programme, said: “Cambridgeshire is a leading digital county and we know how important it is to have fast, reliable Internet access wherever you are.
“It’s vital for our businesses to be able to compete, for our communities to thrive, and for people to access council services online. We welcome County Broadband’s commitment to investing in gigabit-capable services for rural villages in Cambridgeshire, which supports our ambition to extend full fibre coverage across the county to deliver better connectivity. Our Enabling Digital Delivery team is helping to ensure the rollout progresses as quickly as possible.”
Currently, 8% of UK homes and businesses can access full-fibre broadband, compared with 89% in Portugal and 99% in South Korea. The government is relying on privately funded infrastructure specialists like County Broadband to accelerate the UK’s roll-out.
The villages included in the initial rollout now have the choice of pre-ordering the new network or staying with their current providers. At least 30% of residents and businesses need to commit to pre-ordering to give the green light to start construction in each village. The networks would be installed in late 2020 and be available to all premises.
Full-fibre broadband provides lightning-fast speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps) through FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) networks in which fibre optic cables are connected directly into properties and offices – even in difficult-to-reach rural areas. This means HD films and music can be downloaded in seconds.
FTTP speeds are up to 20 times faster than superfast broadband which is based on a FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet) infrastructure which, even though is promoted as fibre, uses slow copper cables to deliver the internet from green roadside cabinets to the home. Speeds typically halve every 600 metres and connections can be unreliable in peak times.
Residents and businesses can find out if they’re in a village covered in the rollout by using our postcode checker here.