Sir George and County Councillor Mel Kendall launched the Super Fast Broadband Programme in Oakley. "Super Fast Broadband is available to three quarters of the UK already, and the Government is committed to extending this to 95% by 2017. However, there are some parts of the country which cannot access Super Fast Broadband without help from their local authority, central Government and BT".
Hampshire County Council signed a contract with BT in March 2013, and has received £5 million funding from central Government, which it has matched, and there is a £4.2 million contribution from BT. 2,000 local homes and businesses got access to Super Fast Broadband on December 18th, when Sir George and Mel visited Oakley. By the end of March 2014, the project plans to connect the first 9,000 premises, including communities such as Overton, Steventon, Sherborne St John, Odiham and Upton Grey. Speeds will be a minimum of 24 Mbps, with some premises being able to access more than 50 Mbps. By the end of 2015, Hampshire County Council hope to reach 57,000 premises.
Sir George said how important it was that rural communities should access Super Fast Broadband, so they could have the same quality of service as residents in towns and cities. He commended Oakley Parish Council for their campaigning to get Oakley included in the programme right at the beginning, and encouraged local people to sign up in order to get the benefit of Super Fast Broadband.
After the formal opening, children from Oakley Football Club gave a football demonstration on the Peter Houseman Playing Fields.
Press release from Maria Miller below
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Dear Colleague, 18 December 2013
RE: Superfast Britain broadband update on Superfast Extension Programme, connection vouchers for SMEs and ‘Super Switch-On Day’
This month has seen an enormous amount of activity for the Superfast Britain programme with the announcement of a £10 million competitive fund to test innovative broadband solutions and extend coverage to the most remote parts of the UK. We also launched a £100 million broadband connection voucher scheme for small and medium businesses and today we are celebrating ‘Super Switch-On Day’.
On 4 December 2013, as part of the National Infrastructure Plan, a £10 million competitive fund was opened to market test innovative solutions to extend superfast broadband services to the most difficult to reach areas of the UK. These solutions may include enhanced mobile services, new fixed technologies, alternative approaches to structuring financial support, and working closely with the communications industry.
Originally £530 million was allocated to the Rural Broadband Programme to extend coverage of superfast broadband to 90% of the UK; a further £250m was allocated at Spending Round 2013 to extend superfast coverage to 95% of the UK by 2017. The new £10 million competitive fund to explore innovative services will assist the government, together with local authorities and devolved administrations, to bring the benefits of superfast broadband to people, families and businesses in rural and remote areas.
On 7 December 2013, a broadband connection voucher scheme worth up to £100 million was launched, accessible to small and medium businesses in 10 cities across the UK as part of our Super Connected Cities Programme. Eligible businesses can apply for grants of up to £3,000 each to cover the costs of installing faster and better broadband, allowing them to better respond to customer demand and modern business practices. More information is available at www.connectionvouchers.co.uk.
The 10 cities offering connection vouchers are: Belfast, Salford, Portsmouth, Cardiff, Derby, Bristol, Edinburgh, Newport, London and Manchester. In early 2014, we will extend the scheme to the next 12 Super Connected cities.
The scheme is a core part of the broadband transformation that the Government is delivering across the country. Not only will this benefit small and medium businesses, it will also help cities to create new jobs and attract investment as part of the Government’s ambition to make the UK the best place in Europe to do business.
Today Super Switch-On Day marks the ‘switching on’ of broadband cabinets in locations across the nation, giving local homes and businesses access to fibre broadband for the first time. An additional 5000 homes and businesses in towns and villages in Wiltshire & South Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent & Medway, Cheshire, the Cotswolds and Shropshire now have access to high-speed broadband as a result of Government investment. The total number of premises expected to have access to fibre broadband by Christmas as a result of the Superfast Britain rollout exceeds 200,000.
Super Switch On Day marks the culmination of the enormous progress made during 2013 – tangible results are now being seen in communities across the UK with thousands of homes and businesses gaining access to superfast broadband. National rollout is accelerating, with many projects already ahead of schedule. Ten thousand premises per week are gaining access to fibre broadband, and this will increase to 25,000 per week in spring 2014, ramping up to 40,000 per week by summer 2014. This builds on the commercial roll out of fibre by the private sector, with combined figures from Ofcom showing that in June 2013, some 73% of UK premises could already connect to superfast broadband.
Superfast Britain is on track to deliver superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017 through a transformative infrastructure project that offers excellent value for taxpayer money, with a net return of £20 by 2024 for every £1 spent now. We have committed over £1 billion to upgrading our broadband infrastructure. We can only afford to make this investment because we have taken the difficult decisions to tackle the deficit. This is part of our long-term economic plan for a better and more secure future for Britain and for hardworking people.
I look forward to keeping you up to date on the progress of the Superfast Britain programme and sharing figures for local projects with you.
Rt Hon Maria Miller MP
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women & Equalities