A deal with BT to provide superfast broadband will make Surrey the best connected county in the UK and could boost its economy by almost £30m a year.
Surrey County Council has signed a contract with BT to create a county-wide high-speed network to help firms to do business online and ensure communities are not left behind.
It will mean connection speeds of up to 80Mbps will be available with BT also due to launch an ultra-fast broadband on demand service with speeds of up to 330Mbps. *** Ofcom says the UK’s average broadband speed is 9Mbps.
Surrey has estimated that the high-speed internet service will boost the county’s economy by around £28m annually.
The £33m deal was done to ensure the county council achieves its aim of providing superfast broadband for up to 20% of businesses and homes ¬– more than 90,000 premises – not included in the commercial roll-out nationally.
It means nearly 100% of Surrey businesses and homes will be covered by the end of 2014. The national aim is for 90% of the country to have access to superfast broadband by 2015.
Surrey’s Deputy Leader Peter Martin said: “The county council has done a deal that will make Surrey the best connected county in the country and could boost our economy by around £28m a year.
“This will be a great boost for business, from start-ups in small offices through to multi-nationals. It can be crucial to the continued success of Surrey businesses and a huge attraction to those looking to move in.
“Fast and reliable web access is essential to our daily lives and by stepping in we’re also making sure no Surrey communities are disadvantaged.”
Bill Murphy, Managing Director, Next Generation Broadband from BT Group added: “We are delighted to have been chosen as a partner in this project by Surrey County Council.
“This project puts Surrey well ahead of the game. It goes further than the Government’s national aim for fibre broadband by 2015 and brings the county within a whisker of 100% fibre broadband availability. No other county has announced a scheme matching Surrey’s high-speed broadband coverage.”
Openreach, BT’s local network division, will install the fibre network which will be open to all communications providers. This means consumers and businesses in Surrey will benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices.
A fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) system, where high-speed fibre cabling is connected to a street cabinet near a user’s home, will be the main technology employed, delivering downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. The average downstream speed today in Surrey is 7.4Mpbs.
It will allow businesses to introduce many new services and applications. Big business applications driven by cloud services and data centres will be within the reach of firms of all sizes. Computer back up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high quality videoconferencing by firms and their customers will be possible.
Users will be able to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and send and receive large amounts of data much quicker. New fibre services are also set to transform the way consumers use the internet, from speeding up the simple sharing of pictures and video to enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available online.
As part of the project, Surrey County Council and BT will also work closely on next generation broadband solutions for the few remaining premises that are harder to reach with a fixed fibre line.
BT was one of three firms shortlisted for the contract. The company will contribute £11.8m to the project with £20m coming from Surrey County Council and £1.3m from the government’s Broadband Delivery UK fund.