Surrey gets into broadband superfast lane with £33 million deal

Fiber-optic cable under yellow light

Surrey County Council has signed a contract with BT to provide superfast broadband connectivity to the county.

The deal will see the creation of a new county-wide high-speed network to help speed up access and connectivity to firms and ensure communities are not left behind.

The new network will boost speeds up to 80Mbps. BT is also due to launch an ultra-fast broadband on demand service with speeds of up to 330Mbps in the near future. Current UK's average broadband speeds are 9Mbps.

The council has estimated that the high-speed internet service will boost the county's economy by around 28m annually.

The 33m deal was done to ensure the county council achieves its aim of providing superfast broadband for up to 20 per cent of businesses and homes more than 90,000 premises not included in the commercial roll-out nationally.

It means nearly 100 per cent of Surrey businesses and homes will be covered by the end of 2014. The national aim is for 90 per cent of the country to have access to superfast broadband by 2015.

Surrey's Deputy Leader Peter Martin said that the county council did the deal to make Surrey "the best connected county in the country and could boost our economy by around 28m a year."

"This will be a great boost for business, from start-ups in small offices through to multi-nationals. It can be crucial to the continued success of Surrey businesses and a huge attraction to those looking to move in," he said.

Openreach, BT's local network division, will install the fibre network which will be open to all communications providers. A fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) system will be the main technology used, delivering downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps.

The average downstream speed today in Surrey is 7.4Mbps.

"This project puts Surrey well ahead of the game. It goes further than the Government's national aim for fibre broadband by 2015 and brings the county within a whisker of 100 per cent fibre broadband availability," said Bill Murphy, Managing Director, Next Generation Broadband from BT Group. "No other county has announced a scheme matching Surrey's high-speed broadband coverage."

As part of the project, Surrey County Council and BT will also work on next generation broadband for the few remaining premises that are harder to reach with a fixed fibre line.

BT was one of three firms shortlisted for the contract. The company will contribute 11.8 million to the project with 20 million coming from Surrey County Council and 1.3 million from the government's Broadband Delivery UK fund.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.