Isle homes benefit from superfast broadband rollout

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The first phase of the Northern Lincs Broadband (NLBB) project is now complete with 31,000 properties able to see major improvements to their broadband speeds – one of the quickest rollouts to take place in the UK.

A fibre broadband cabinet in the village of Gunness was the last of 154 cabinets installed across the length and breadth of North and North East Lincolnshire. Scawby Brook was the first community to benefit when the first cabinet was switched on in March 2014.

The multi-million pound NLBB project was set-up to expand on BT’s commercial rollout of fibre broadband with the aim of providing high-speed fibre broadband access to around 92.5 per cent of Northern Lincolnshire by June 2015, which it has successfully done.

NLBB has recently signed a contract with BT for £1.99m, which will make the technology available to a further 4,000 households and businesses across Northern Lincolnshire not included in the first phase. This second phase of the contract is made up of investment from BT and Government funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).

Detailed rollout plans will be announced in the coming months with the first communities included expected to benefit from the new technology from March 2016 onwards.

A map of the areas that will benefit from superfast broadband will be available as soon as detailed surveying and planning has been completed.

Councillor Liz Redfern, leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said: “The main phase of the Northern Lincs Broadband project has been a great success. It was in the top six nationally for completing the rollout the quickest, which is a brilliant achievement. The team, working alongside BT, worked extremely hard to ensure the rollout of high-speed broadband reached the target of 31,000 on schedule. We have received fantastic feedback from residents and businesses that can now access superfast broadband – especially in rural areas. They are now able to take advantage of the variety of benefits that high-speed fibre broadband brings.

“We haven’t forgotten about those areas that still don’t have access to high-speed broadband though. We are now planning the second phase of the project to reach even more areas across North Lincolnshire. We will be releasing further details soon.”

More than £7m of funding was earmarked for the first phase of the project which has already made high-speed, fibre broadband available to thousands of homes and businesses in parts of Brigg, Grimsby, Barton-upon-Humber, Scartho, Epworth, Healing, Burton-upon-Stather and Ulceby, plus many more areas. This investment was made up of Government funding from BDUK, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), North Lincolnshire Council and BT.

Fibre broadband enables everyone in the family to do their own thing online, all at the same time. Whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds, fibre broadband can do it all.

It will also improve access to new job opportunities, and make it easier to shop online for cheaper services.

Tom Keeney, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Superfast broadband will help improve access to jobs, allow local companies to compete in the global marketplace, create new opportunities for local people in the way they work, learn and enjoy their leisure time, and help young people make use of educational resources online.

“As millions of UK households and businesses have discovered, fibre broadband opens up a whole new world to internet users. We are focused not just on delivering the high-speed infrastructure but making sure that the benefits are fully exploited. I would encourage people to contact the internet service provider of their choice to find out what faster internet could do for them.”

The benefits of increased broadband speeds are considerable for all businesses. They can do much more in far less time such as speeding up file and data transfers, collaborating with colleagues and customers on conference or video calls, swapping their hardware and expensive software licenses for files, processing power and software from cloud computing. And importantly staff can work as effectively from home as they would in the office.

Northern Lincs Broadband developed a free programme of business support to help eligible small businesses save time, money and improve efficiency. The programme of dedicated IT specialists and business advisors provided tailored support geared towards maximising the benefits of improved connectivity through.

The NLBB Business Support team provided 3,000 hours of support to more than 450 local businesses across the area. 160 businesses completed the full programme – exceeding the Government’s target of 160 business assists.

Councillor Liz Redfern added: “The business support programme has helped many businesses across Northern Lincolnshire to develop. The programme was tailored for individual businesses to suit their specific needs; whether this was setting up a website or social media pages to creating a system to buy products online. Businesses have told us that the support provided was very beneficial and it has made a real difference to their company. The team did a fantastic job, and even exceeded all of the targets set by the Government. Well done to everyone involved in making the project such a success.”