[H]igh-speed fibre broadband is now available to more than 3,000 homes and businesses in Wigton.
Engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business – have switched on 12 new green fibre broadband roadside cabinets in the area.
Hundreds of Wigton households and businesses have already joined the high-speed revolution by signing up for the service since the arrival of the first fibre cabinet in Autumn 2014.
Most recently, Openreach engineers have also worked hard to make fibre available to more than 900 premises in the six surrounding rural villages of Baggrow, Plumbland, Harriston, Bothel, Westnewton and Gilcrux.
Since October 2013, the Connecting Cumbria project – a partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT – has enabled more than 550 fibre broadband cabinets across the county, with more being switched on every day. Over 120,000 Cumbrian households and businesses now have access to fibre as a result of the project.
One local business already enjoying the benefits of having fibre is family run Jacksons Models – which specialises in the sale of diecast models to collectors around the world. Brenda Jackson, who runs the shop with son Daniel, said having high-speed broadband had slashed the time taken to upload new data to their website and boosted their in-house payment system.
Brenda, who signed up to a superfast service in October last year, said: “We upload changes to our website overnight – things like new price listings, new photos and details of items for sale – and before the upgrade, we would open up the next morning to discover errors or images missing on the website where they hadn’t uploaded properly because the broadband signal had dropped out. Now we don’t have to worry about any of that. We sell around 60 per cent of our stock online and have a worldwide mail order service supporting a multinational customer base. Our website is our virtual shopfront so it’s vital that we can update it quickly and efficiently.”
“We now market ourselves online a lot more and have a very active Facebook page. Superfast lets us respond to customer queries, process orders and upload new content instantly. Over the last few years more and more of our business has moved online – having fibre gives us the assurance and efficiency we need to support that.”
David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for economic development, said: “It is reassuring to see Connecting Cumbria reaching homes and businesses in communities however small or remote they may be. It reflects our ultimate goal which is to provide every resident, business, organisation and visitor with access to superfast fibre broadband.”
Mike Blackburn, BT North West regional director, added: “Superfast broadband is now seen as an essential rather than a luxury. Superfast broadband provides the cornerstone for prosperous communities, helping local people build their skills and knowledge whilst encouraging the creation of new businesses and jobs – and then helping to keep those businesses and jobs in the local communities.
“There is no quick and easy way to get superfast broadband to rural areas. It involves challenges above and beyond those you would encounter in a more urban environment, but we are making solid progress. Together with our commercial programme, we have already reached nearly 220,000 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 wide choice of fibre broadband providers.