West Midlands Rural Communities Celebrate Broadband Milestone

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Image Caption: Openreach Engineer busy at work

Thousands of the West Midlands’ most rural homes and businesses are looking forward to a faster future thanks to the arrival of high-speed broadband.

Openreach, the UK’s largest telephone and broadband network, is announcing that more than 100,000 premises across the UK are now part of its Community Fibre Partnership (CFP) scheme.

More than 9,600 of them are from the West Midlands, and broadband champions from across the region – including Cotwalton in Staffordshire and Hanbury in Worcestershire – celebrated the scheme recently at the House of Commons.

Openreach’s CFP scheme involves the company splitting the cost of installing faster broadband with the local community. In many cases, the local contribution can be entirely covered by broadband vouchers, such as the Government’s Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme*.

Carl Sproston, Openreach’s Partnership Director for the West Midlands, said:

“The CFP scheme has been a huge success and there are many communities across the region delighted to have fast broadband speeds, despite living in some of the most rural areas. It builds on the work we’re already doing ourselves, and in partnership with our council partners across the region.

Openreach is using a mix of technologies to deliver the CFP programme, but primarily the latest ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology providing broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps. That’s enough bandwidth for a family of four to all stream ultra HD or 4k quality movies or TV simultaneously, without waiting or buffering.

Once Openreach has installed the infrastructure, residents can place an order for the new faster services with a provider of their choice. Openreach provides the telephone and broadband network used by the likes of Sky, BT and TalkTalk. So people are still able to choose from a range of broadband products and packages – they are not restricted to just one supplier.

A recent independent report estimates the scheme generates, on average, around £800,000 of benefits to each community. And that having fibre broadband available increases the value of the average property by around £1,700.[1]

Kim Mears, managing director of strategic infrastructure development for Openreach, said:

“Our ambition is to ‘never say no’ to any community that wants fibre broadband connectivity – we’ll work with any community to find a way forward and we hope that this scheme will encourage even more communities to work with us.”

Openreach’s commitment to the region extends far beyond making faster broadband available. More than 2,500 of our people live and work in the West Midlands. Earlier this year, we also announced that the team is expanding even further with more than 180 new fibre engineers due to be recruited during the next 12 months.

The success of the Community Fibre Partnership scheme is a further boost for the West Midlands, where more than 97 per cent of homes and businesses can already access fibre broadband with speeds of 30Mbps and above.

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