BT and South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) have announced that Bradley Stoke is to be the first South Gloucestershire town to benefit from their joint state-aided superfast broadband investment project.
The upgrade will mostly benefit premises served by the Almondsbury telephone exchange (01454 numbers) that are outside the coverage area of the Virgin Media cable network.
The first homes and businesses should be able to order the new superfast fibre broadband service “from summer 2014”.
Other communities set to benefit as a result of today’s announcement include Barrs Court, Lower Almondsbury, Olveston, Rudgeway, Thornbury town centre, Tockington, Tormarton and Warmley.
The work represents the second phase of the South Gloucestershire BDUK broadband investment project, following an earlier announcement that Pucklechurch and Wick are to receive upgraded services from June 2014.
The council says that 94 per cent of premises in South Gloucestershire will have access to superfast speeds of 24Mbps and above by March 2015. Additionally, all premises within the district will have access to a minimum speed of 2Mbps by March 2016.
Councillor John Goddard, Chair of South Gloucestershire Council’s Resources Sub-Committee, said:
“We recognise that high speed internet connections are vital for South Gloucestershire’s economic future, and for promoting business growth and encouraging inward investment, which is why we are delighted to announce that Bradley Stoke is our first town to benefit from the roll out of superfast broadband under this partnership. Today’s announcement marks a major achievement for this large and complex project.”
“Bradley Stoke is our largest area to date to benefit from the roll out of superfast broadband, with the first homes and businesses able to order the latest technology by next summer.”
Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation networks for BT Group, said:
“This is another important milestone for a partnership which is making rapid progress. Working with our partners, we are able to bring this exciting technology to locations where the economics and engineering challenges are that much greater.”
“High-speed fibre is increasingly important if local households and businesses are to make the most of the huge range of opportunities offered by the internet, whether they are seeking to start a new business, find new customers, undertake on-line training or simply wishing to browse for entertainment or leisure purposes.”
Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti said:
“I’m delighted to hear that homes and businesses in Bradley Stoke will be amongst the first to benefit from the new service. As a rapidly growing town, it is vital that local infrastructure keeps up with demand and enables the town to continue to thrive.”
“The campaign for better broadband was one of the first initiatives I took up following my election in 2010, meeting with South Gloucestershire Council after receiving a great deal of correspondence from constituents on this matter. I’ve met with Department for Culture, Media and Sport Minister Ed Vaizey, and I’m pleased that the Government saw the merit in providing funding to this project. I also met with representatives from BT, and I’m glad we have now almost realised our aims for long overdue, constituency-wide superfast broadband coverage.”
Bradley Stoke South Councillors John Ashe & Rob Jones and Bradley Stoke Central and Stoke Lodge Councillors Sarah Pomfret & Brian Hopkinson commented:
“We are delighted to see that Bradley Stoke is the first town set to benefit from the council’s publicly-funded superfast broadband project because you won’t find a community anywhere in the country as determined as our town is not to be left in the broadband slow lane.”
“We know that poor broadband services are a major barrier to economic growth and investment, whilst also restricting individuals and families in accessing online services such as educational activities, communication, entertainment, shopping and paying bills.”
“Residents and businesses should not have to struggle to take maximum advantage of the internet and online services and we look forward to the first Bradley Stoke households being able to order fibre broadband from summer 2014.”
“And we will keep lobbying the council to make the maximum amount of information available to the public, including which specific Bradley Stoke roads will be able to order fibre broadband first.”
Additional information provided to The Journal by South Gloucestershire Council explains some of the “economic and engineering challenges” referred to by Mr Murphy:
BT will be bringing a range of technologies to Bradley Stoke, including Fibre to the Cabinet and Fibre to the Premise, as well as designing the solution for exchange-only telephone lines. It will be the biggest area of fibre deployment, and is the most complex from a ‘fibre network design’ perspective.
The existing copper network in Bradley Stoke has resulted in a complex picture with, for example, some parts of the same street being serviced by different telephone exchanges. A large proportion of Bradley Stoke is also served directly from these exchanges, some distance away, rather than through street cabinets, which is the norm.
In order to install fibre in the most cost effective way, this means that as part of the project, the copper network needs to be completely re-arranged in those areas, to make it possible to install new fibre-enabled cabinets. Bringing fibre to those new street cabinets resolves the problem of Bradley Stoke not having its own telephone exchange, as it brings fibre directly into Bradley Stoke – much closer to people’s homes and businesses. The council’s project will address these complex issues.
BT announced in April 2011 that it was upgrading its Filton exchange (serving 0117 numbers) to provide superfast broadband but, so far, very few subscribers in Bradley Stoke have been able to order the service. As reported recently in The Journal, the company recently upgraded a street cabinet at the junction of Ellan Hay Road and Baileys Court Road and it is hoped that premises in the nearby ‘herbs’ roads will be able to order superfast broadband from the end of September.
Photo: Cllr John Goddard with Matt Lloyd, Next Generation Access Programme Manager for BT.
UPDATE (26th Sep): South Gloucestershire Council’s answers to questions submitted by The Journal
Q. Can you provide figures detailing how many Bradley Stoke premises will benefit from today’s announcement and how many of those premises will be able to access superfast (24Mps+) services, as opposed to the very limited ‘standard’ service of 2Mbps.
A. More than 3,500 homes in Bradley Stoke are in the intervention area, with the first homes and businesses able to order the improved broadband services by summer 2014. BT will carry out detailed surveying in order to carefully plan the deployment in Bradley Stoke. Until this survey work has been completed, it is too early to state figures regarding access to superfast broadband speeds. Once these surveys are complete, we will have more details on the deployment plan, including a more accurate picture of which areas will get which solution. A range of technology will be deployed across Bradley Stoke, including Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) and the Exchange-Only (EO) lines solution, which is still undefined in terms of technology.
Q. Are any premises on 0117 numbers that have yet to benefit from BT’s upgrade of the Filton exchange included in the council’s project?
A. This announcement relates to the Almondsbury exchange, as this area has no commercial deployment overlap. The Filton exchange has had a commercial deployment – this exchange has been upgraded under BT’s commercial plans. There will be deployments in Filton in the future to fill in the gaps left by the commercial rollout.
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