Major boost for region’s homes and businesses.
More than 20,000 businesses and households are now able to access high-speed fibre broadband thanks to the ambitious Black Country Broadband Project, lead partners Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and BT announced today.
Areas of Aldridge, Bearwood, Cradley Heath, Greets Green and Lyng, Halesowen, Kingswinford, Leamore, Penn, Pleck, Smethwick, Soho and Victoria, and West Bromwich are among the latest communities to benefit.
Beacon Centre for the Blind, in Sedgley, which is using fibre broadband to expand its online services, said it was important more people now also had access to fibre broadband services at home.
Nick Comley, the centre’s Head of Social Finance & Business Development, said: “High-speed broadband has made it possible for Beacon to provide employment support for people with visual impairment, particularly in digital technology and software solutions, as well as to access online advice, information and guidance relating to sight loss prevention and conditions through a network of community located digital kiosks. In addition, it’s made it easier for people with sight loss to connect with family and friends through video streaming and email and through the digital distribution of the Black Country Talking News.
“The pace of the Black Country Broadband roll-out is making it easier for an increasing number of people who use our centre to access these sorts of services at home too.”
As part of the roll-out, engineers have installed more than 190 fibre broadband road-side cabinets, which are needed to enable local premises to connect to the new network. Because the project 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.
Ninder Johal, Chair of the Black Country Broadband Group and a Board Member of the Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “A superfast internet connection can make a world of difference to businesses and homes. For businesses superfast broadband can help organisations to become more efficient, cheaper to run and easier to develop improving competitiveness both in the UK and overseas, bringing a real boost to the local economy. At-home benefits include faster downloads of music and movies and simultaneous online browsing improving the quality of the online experience for all the family.
“Reaching the 20,000 milestone is a huge step in delivering our ambition of a minimum of 98 per cent high-speed fibre broadband availability across the Black County by the end of 2017.”
Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director of next generation access, said: “The roll-out of fibre broadband is progressing extremely well and our project teams are working hard to make it available to even more parts of the Black Country. Every day we’re hearing how fibre broadband is making a positive impact on people’s lives – whether it’s someone working or running a business from home, or families wanting to connect several devices to the internet at the same time for leisure or learning – everything is easier, better and faster with fibre broadband.”
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 project visit www.blackcountrylep.co.uk/place/broadband-plan