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Hadrian’s Wall villages linked up to fibre broadband network

Wallsend Wigwams
Wallsend Wigwams

[H]igh-speed fibre broadband is now available to a further 680 homes and businesses in Kirkbride and nearby communities.

Engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business – have switched on four new green roadside cabinets providing fibre broadband for communities near Hadrian’s Wall, such as Anthorn, Bowness on Solway and Glasson as well as expanding coverage in Kirkbride itself.

Hundreds of Kirkbride households and businesses have already joined the high-speed revolution – with around 30 per cent of residents in the village signing up to a superfast service since the arrival of the first fibre cabinet earlier this year.

Since October 2013, the Connecting Cumbria project – a partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT – has enabled almost 600 fibre broadband cabinets, with more being switched on every day. More than 120,000 households and businesses now have access to fibre as a result of the project.

One local business looking forward to the benefits of having fibre is Wallsend Guest House in Bowness on Solway. Owner Lyn Lewis said: “The arrival of high-speed fibre broadband is going to make a great difference to what we can offer to our guests and customers. We’re now in our sixth year of business and have seen demands for decent internet access get higher and higher.

“Currently we can only offer wi-fi in our guest house and tea room. A lot of our guests are solo travellers from overseas, either walking the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail or using the National Cycle Network Route 72. When they stay with us they are keen to let their loved ones back home know they are OK and that’s often over Skype. Skype really struggles if more than one person is using the internet with the speed we currently have.

“With the arrival of high-speed fibre broadband we will be able to confidently cope with multiple Skype calls as well as extend the wi-fi to our guests who stay in our Wigwam® cabins and camp with us.

“Guests will be able to access all the information they need ‘on the spot’ to get the most out of their visitor experience at Wallsend, such as research local attractions, book tickets and check in online for flights.

“And for guests planning their stay with us, our online booking system will be vastly improved with no more frustrating website crashes in the middle of credit card bookings.

“We hope that the new fibre service will bring increased consumer satisfaction by being an efficient business which exceeds guest expectations.”

David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for economic development, said:  “We continue to reach more and more businesses and homes in all parts of Cumbria through our Connecting Cumbria programme. Tourism is vital to the county’s economy and it’s great to hear time and time again how fibre broadband is enabling those businesses to offer more to their customers, become more efficient and do more online.”

Mike Blackburn, BT North West regional director, said: “Fibre broadband is having such a transformational effect on small businesses in Cumbria, particularly those involved in tourism like Wallsend guest house. It is helping them to meet the increasing digital needs of customers and the industry itself.

“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. As a result of Connecting Cumbria and BT’s own commercial programme, we have already reached more than 220,000 homes and businesses with our fibre network in Cumbria – and we are going further.”

More than nine out of ten premises across the UK can access superfast broadband speeds. For more details on the roll-out visit openreach.co.uk/whereandwhen

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