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Deal signed to make Surrey UK's best connected county
2:11pm Friday 14th September 2012 in News
Surrey is set to become the best connected county in the UK thanks to it signing a deal with BT for superfast broadband.
County council deputy leader Peter Martin signed a contract with BT's Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Broadband from BT Group, at County Hall, to create a Surrey-wide high-speed network to help firms do business online and ensure communities are not left behind.
The county council has said the deal could boost the Surrey economy by almost £30 million a year.
The contract 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.
Industry regulator Ofcom says the UK’s average broadband speed is 9Mbps.
The county council said the £33 million deal was done to ensure it will achieve 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 said the deal 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.
The county council has estimated that the high-speed internet service will boost the county’s economy by around £28 million annually.
Coun 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 £28 million a year.
“This will be a great boost for business, from start-ups in small offices through to multi-nationals.” He said: “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 also essential to our daily lives and by stepping in we’re making sure no Surrey communities are disadvantaged.”
Mr Murphy said: “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.”
He added: “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, making for a highly competitive market with greater choice and competitive 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.
The council said the new technology will allow businesses to introduce new services and applications, with big business applications driven by cloud services and data centres within the reach of firms of all sizes. Computer back-up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high quality video-conferencing by firms and their customers will be possible.
The council stated: “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.”
The council added that as part of the project, the 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, one of three firms short-listed for the contract, will contribute £11.8 million to the project with £20 million coming from the county council and £1.3 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK fund.
Implementation of the project is subject to prior approval from the European Commission under the EU State aid rules.
Openreach plans to commercially launch fibre to the premise (FTTP) on demand during spring 2013, and will levy an installation charge for the service.
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Website: www.btplc.com