Demand superfast broadband across Cambs now

BUSINESSES and householders across Cambridgeshire, particularly in rural areas, have the provision of high-speed broadband firmly in their own hands.

Local authorities and central Government have thrown �30m into a pot to help make what would otherwise be unviable investment in rural communities wash its face commercially.

Cambridgeshire County and Peterborough City Councils are convinced that providing superfast broadband will help boost the economy and make sure communities can benefit from being connected. And they are now inviting organisations that have pre-qualified to move to the next stage in bidding to roll out high-spedd broadband across the area.

Cambridgeshire has committed �20million to the venture, Peterborough �3m and the Government funding and advice body Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has allocated �6.75m to the project.

The plan for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is for at least 90 per cent of homes and businesses to have access to superfast broadband with speeds of at least 25 Mbps and above and better broadband connectivity for all remaining premises by 2015.

Provision in larger settlements makes commercial sense to suppliers such as BT and Virgin, but it is in smaller villages that the public funding will make the difference between success and failure.

But the project will not succeed unless the demand can be demonstrated, and businesses and households persuade potential suppliers and funders that they will subscribe when the facility is available.

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To co-ordinate that demand Cambridgeshire County Council’s Connecting Cambridgeshire website will go live in the next few days, given citizens and companies the chance to register their interest in taking the service.

There is likely to be significant demand in rural Huntingdonshire, where businesses have long complained that poor bandwidth is cramping their potential for success – as they told the regulator Ofcom at its first-ever public consultation, in St Ives as long ago as 2008.

The local authorities want to appoint a supplier by the end of the year to invest in rolling out superfast broadband across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, with implementation beginning from 2013 onwards.

Cambridgeshire County Council is the contracting authority for the project, acting on behalf of the county and Peterborough City Council supported by district councils, the Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership and key partners in business, health and education.