Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron praised the work of engineers when he visited Crosthwaite in South Lakeland to celebrate the completion of the largest ultrafast broadband project in Cumbria.
Around 480 households and businesses in the three South Lakeland villages of Crosthwaite, Underbarrow and Brigsteer now have access to some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK.
Engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, installed 12km of overhead fibre cabling and pruned hundreds of trees en route in order to run the cable between telegraph poles.
The new Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network is capable of delivering speeds up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) to households and businesses in the three villages.
Tim Farron, who is MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said: “This is great news for these villages. Access to top quality broadband is not only important for local residents, it is also vital for our local economy. It enables businesses based in villages in rural Cumbria to connect to the global economy, reaching new markets and helping to support local jobs.
“Investing in broadband infrastructure will give a real boost to the local economy. It is vital that ultrafast broadband continues to be rolled out across the county, so that we can compete on the international stage.”
One local business experiencing the benefits of having fibre is the Damson Dene Hotel in Crosthwaite.
Jonathan Denby, managing director of the South Lakes Hotels, said: “It seems like a miracle that we have ultrafast broadband in the middle of the Lake District National Park.
“This is a really fantastic service and exactly what our guests need. It puts the Lake District on a par with a big city like London.
“We get so many guests from places like Tokyo and Beijing and although our railways may remind them of the Middle Ages, our internet is up there with the rest of the world."
Jim Jackson, Openreach’s regional infrastructure delivery director for the North, added: “Cumbria has some very challenging terrain with some major obstacles to be overcome as we deliver high-speed fibre broadband to as many communities as possible.
“There is no quick and easy way to get fibre broadband to some rural areas, but we continue to look for the most innovative and best ways of doing this, like cutting back 12km of trees to enable us to reach these three villages in South Lakeland and provide the largest deployment of FTTP in the county.”
Paul Cretney, BT senior project manager for next generation access, said: “Fibre-to-the-Premises technology is just one of the ways we can overcome the challenges of reaching more remote, less populated communities like Crosthwaite, Underbarrow and Brigsteer and demonstrates our commitment to making high-speed fibre broadband as widely available as possible.
“They are just some of the communities across the county that have been connected up to high speed broadband using FTTP technology as part of the Connecting Cumbria project.”
Further ultrafast fibre broadband will be brought to the surrounding area during Summer and Autumn 2017.
More than 120,000 households and businesses now have access to fibre broadband as a result of the Connecting Cumbria project – a partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT. In addition to a significant number of properties able to get FTTP, it has also rolled out Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) extensively, installing almost 600 fibre broadband cabinets across the county, with more being switched on every day.
Together with BT’s commercial programme, more than 220,000 homes and businesses now have access to the fibre broadband network in Cumbria.
When fibre broadband becomes available in an area, people need to contact their internet service provider to arrange an upgrade as it doesn’t happen automatically. Because the network is ‘open’, they have a wide choice of fibre broadband providers.
More than nine out of 10 premises across the UK can already access superfast broadband speeds.
For more details on the roll-out visit openreach.co.uk/whereandwhen.
People not included in any current roll-out plans for fibre broadband can visit www.communityfibre.com to find out how to help bring superfast broadband to their local area.