High-speed broadband coverage in Wokingham is set to pass the 99% mark in the final phase of a £40m project.
Superfast Berkshire was launched in 2011 under the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme to roll out a high speed service to areas not covered by commercial plans of the private sector.
Over the past five years the programme has driven up superfast broadband capacity across the county of Berkshire from 87% to 95% in two phases.
Now a third and final phase is underway after contracts were awarded to BT and broadband provider Gigaclear.
This will extend superfast coverage to more than 99.5% of properties in Berkshire by 2019 – making it one of the best served counties for superfast broadband across the UK, benefiting residents and businesses alike.
In Wokingham coverage will reach 99.53% - well up on 90.4% in 2013 and 91.8% by the end of the third phase of the project.
Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, Wokingham Borough Council leader, said: “Superfast broadband can transform lives and deliver major benefits to the local economy.
“We have worked very closely with our partners in Superfast Berkshire and the programme has been a great success.
“Its third phase will mean nearly all homes
and businesses in Wokingham will have the opportunity to benefit from this vital service.”
Under the third phase BT will extend coverage to 7,400 more urban premises and Gigaclear will expand the network to 6,100 more rural premises.
Each of the six Berkshire districts will achieve coverage of over 99%, providing much more equitable access for all areas of the county.
However, the work doesn’t stop there as Superfast Berkshire working with BT, Gigaclear and other suppliers under their commercial plans strive to hit the magic 100% target of total coverage for Berkshire.
In total more than £40m will have been invested in the Superfast Berkshire programme by both the private and public sector to deliver superfast broadband.
This includes around £29.3m from partners BT, Gigaclear and Call Flow Solutions, £5.5m from Berkshire local authorities & Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and £5.2m from national government (BDUK).
Superfast Berkshire has also actively engaged with broadband market providers since the start of the programme to encourage expansion of their commercial plans, allowing public sector funds to be used where they are most needed.
This has also given consumers more choice where superfast provision already existed or overlaps.
Berkshire has seen the demand for faster and faster broadband speeds with more and more businesses, people working from home and normal family activity; all with increasing numbers of applications relying on fast internet access.
Take-up of superfast broadband products delivered under phase one has risen to over 47% so far – the third highest on the UK– and the take-up under phase two is also starting to climb.
West Berkshire Council’s chief executive Nick Carter, who chairs the Superfast Berkshire board, said: “We’re really pleased with the roll-out of superfast broadband so far and excited to begin the final push to connect the remaining premises to the network.
“A fast broadband network is important to the county’s prosperity so this programme will ensure the area retains its competitive edge and make it easier to work, live, learn and socialise in Berkshire.”
To find out more about the Superfast Berkshire programme visit http://www.superfastberkshire.org.uk