[C]onnecting Cumbria announced today that high-speed fibre broadband is now available to 235 homes and businesses in Pooley Bridge, providing a vital boost for local people and firms as they recover from the winter floods.
The Pooley Bridge project posed a number of challenges. Engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business – had to clear flooded ducts in order to run a new fibre cable 18km underground from Pooley Bridge to serve communities nearby, such as Glenridding, and to install a new green fibre broadband cabinet in the village.
Jill Mackey, clerk of Barton parish council, which includes Pooley Bridge, explained what the arrival of fibre broadband means to the parish council and the local community. “Barton Parish Council is about to go live with a new community website – improved broadband will greatly assist with this, particularly as we have learnt the need for improved and rapid communications following the recent floods,” she said.
“It will also be of great benefit to local businesses as they recover from the fallout following the floods.”
One local businessperson looking forward to the benefits of having fibre broadband is the owner of Bea Ray Garden Designs. Bea Ray said: “This announcement is very good news. I currently receive speeds of under 3Mbps with a very basic broadband service. Having high speed fibre broadband will make it much easier to do things like updating the business website, uploading documents, sending and receiving high resolution files, and communicating with clients up and down the country.
“I work from home and have two young children. When the whole family want to use their devices online simultaneously this causes us real problems so I welcome the arrival of high-speed fibre broadband to stop the bickering!
“In terms of the community at Pooley Bridge, we are very much off the beaten track; modern life relies on access to good and reliable broadband services. Our community needs this upgrade to maintain access to key services.”
Since October 2013, the Connecting Cumbria project – a partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT – has enabled more than 500 fibre broadband cabinets, with more being switched on every day. More than 120,000 households and businesses now have access to fibre broadband as a result of the project.
David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for economic development, said: “It’s great to see Connecting Cumbria reaching homes and businesses in communities however small or remote they may be and overcoming flood damage to deliver a real benefit to them when they need it the most. It reflects our ultimate goal which is to provide every resident, business, organisation and visitor with access to high-speed fibre broadband.”
Mike Blackburn, BT North West regional director, said: “There is no quick and easy way to get superfast broadband to many rural areas. It involves challenges above and beyond those you would encounter in a more urban environment, but we are making strong progress. Together with our commercial programme, we have already reached nearly 224,000 homes and businesses with our fibre network in Cumbria – and we are going further.”
When an area has gone ‘live’ for fibre, people need to contact their service provider to upgrade as it doesn’t happen automatically. Because the network is ‘open’, they have a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 now operating in the UK.