Superfast Berkshire bags BDUK funding for BT fibre broadband rollout

Broadband plugs

BT has signed an 8 million deal that will see it deliver superfast broadband services to around 91 per cent of homes and businesses across Berkshire by 2015.

The deal has been struck between all six Berkshire unitary councils that operate under the Superfast Berkshire banner, as well as the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Today's contract signing marks the start of a remarkable transformation of broadband services throughout Berkshire.

Its aim is to bring fibre broadband to a further 18,000 homes and businesses in the county over the next two years. At present, 87 per cent of Berkshire has access to superfast services.

The Superfast Berkshire team said it intends to work closely with BT and BDUK to secure funding for an even higher percentage of local residents to get access to high-speed internet in the future.

BT confirmed Fibre to the Cabinet will be the main technology used to deliver on the project's aims, and should ensure wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps and upstream ones of up to 20Mbps.

Fibre to the Premises technology, which promises speeds of up to 330 Mbps, will also be available on demand to any local businesses that need it.

All Berkshire residents will be guaranteed access to minimum broadband speeds of 2Mbps by extending existing fibre networks and using satellites to connect up some of the area's more rural spots.

The contract has been awarded through the Government's controversial Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme, which was criticised in a Public Accounts Committee report last month for being non-competitive and poor value for money.

BDUK and BT will be stumping up 2.03 million and 4 million, respectively, while Superfast Berkshire will be making up the remaining project cost with a contribution of 2.03 million.

BT said it expects the first premises to be plugged into its superfast broadband network by autumn 2014.

Ed Vaizey , the Government's communications minister, said the deal is sure to benefit Berkshire's local economy.

"Today's contract signing marks the start of a remarkable transformation of broadband services throughout Berkshire," said Vaizey.

"By September 2015, thousands more Berkshire homes and businesses will have access to superfast speeds, and all the benefits that it offers."

Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Access at BT, added: "It is important to support local economies, as well as helping new development and infrastructure in these communities.

"This is where fibre broadband can play an essential role by revitalising towns, villages and hamlets, helping businesses to be connected in these locations."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.