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Cumbria picks BT for £51m superfast broadband rollout

29 Nov 2012
Lowgill Viaduct in Cumbria

BT has been chosen for another regional broadband rollout with Cumbria the latest region to pick the operator to manage the rollout to firms and homes across the remote region.

The deal is worth £51m with BT contributing £15m to the project and a further £17.1m coming from Broadband Development UK (BDUK).

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will add £13.7m and the final £5m comes from councils in Cumbria. Further funding will be made for the marketing of fibre broadband in Cumbria by the ERDF.

BT said the deal would enable it to bring superfast services to 93 percent of homes and businesses in Cumbria with Openreach now set to work alongside the Connecting Cumbria organisation to plan the rollout.

The services on offer will allow other operators, including BT Retail, to offer services to residents of speeds of 80Mbit/s for fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) deployments and up to 330Mbit/s for fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) rollouts, on an on-demand basis.

BT managing director for Next Generation Access, Bill Murphy, said the rollout would be vital for the region to ensure firms could remain economically viable.

"Cumbria's scattered population combined with its comparatively large size and challenging geography, means that small business plays a pivotal role in the county's economy and the rollout of fibre broadband will act as an economic driver for those rural businesses," he said.

"The statistics show that in Cumbria, something like 7,000 businesses operate from villages, hamlets and isolated properties, which is why BT is committed to helping push fibre to those that are hardest to reach."

Cumbria team celebrate BT signing in the Lake District

BT said it was chosen for the contract after "an extensive and thorough selection process" although much of the deals signed have come after its only main rival Fujitsu pulled out from the tender processes, leaving BT to take contracts in Wales and Surrey, among others.

The signing of the deal comes after the European Commission (EC) approved the BDUK funding process under state aid rules, freeing up the £530m set aside by the government for such rollouts to start being spent.

BT is also involved in a rollout across Cornwall based on European funding of £53.5m and £78.5m from BT, as recently witnessed by V3, as access to high-speed broadband is seen as a key piece in boosting the UK's economic output.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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