Virgin Media has identified Chester1 as a key location for expanding superfast broadband to 45,000 premises in an investment worth more than ?20m. The scheme will be rolled out under the company’s ?3bn Project Lightning programme which aims to reach 4m UK premises by 2020 – making it the largest investment in digital communications in a decade.
Mollington is among the first areas being targeted by Virgin Media as part of its roll-out programme for ultra fast broadband.
It says: “Project Lightning would deliver Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) within the project area, giving residents and businesses opportunity to access ultrafast broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps (and 300Mbps for small businesses and home workers).
“Virgin Media is currently working with Cheshire West and Chester highway officers to plan the most efficient delivery mechanisms and to keep disruption to residents and road users to a minimum. Virgin Media is also working with the council on ways to inform local communities of the likely disruption and long term benefits of ultrafast broadband and to inform businesses of the forthcoming increase in coverage and speed.”
Project Lightning is demand-led, with residents and businesses able to register interest at Cable My Street5. The council is working closely with Virgin Media to identify if any other areas could benefit.”
Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire
CWaC is already involved in the Connecting Cheshire programme which has delivered fibre broadband to more than 85,000 premises across Cheshire, Warrington and Halton since 2012. Connecting Cheshire is currently half way through its second phase of delivery, with 91 per cent of the borough’s premises currently receiving speeds of 24Mbps or more.
The project will soon start a third phase of delivery, aiming to reach additional premises across the borough by June 2018. These are the targets for numbers of connected premises within Cheshire West and Chester:
? Phase 1 – 35,700
? Phase 2 – 3,800 (due to complete spring 2017)
? Phase 3 – 2,390 (due to complete by the end of 2018)
Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
The briefing adds: “Some challenges remain, particularly in more rural parts of the borough and outlying settlements. Currently around 0.7 per cent of premises receive less than 2Mbps, but the additional coverage is being rolled out to improve this position.
For areas outside the current planned roll-out a ?350 broadband subsidy is available for premises receiving less than 2Mbps towards the installation of a satellite, wireless or community funded broadband service.”
Delivery of superfast broadband is a key priority for the council as outlined in policy documents ‘Well Connected and Accessible Borough’ and ‘Great Place to do Business’.
The Universal Service Commitment has largely been handed over to satellite based services, though some local authorities are making good use of fixed wireless services too, but one community in Cheshire has shown another option is possible. Residents of Ollerton working together under the umbrella Connecting Ollerton have managed to club together the ?350 subsidy available under the USC scheme and via the Openreach Community Fibre scheme is gap funding a VDSL2 cabinet to service the area. The premises concerned are all connected to cabinet 10 on the Knutsford exchange and while those properties in Knutsford itself are enjoying superfast from the cabinet, Ollerton is too far to benefit and thus the desire for better speeds.
The location for the new cabinet is hinted at via the fact the cabinet will serve some 65 premises around School Lane, and there are two likely locations for the cabinet, option 1 which would place it at the centre of the 65 premises junction on Streetview and all those 65 should get superfast we believe. An alternate option would be at junction on Chelford Road which will increase the distance to some of the 65 premises, but with appropriate copper network rearrangement could bring superfast connectivity to another 70+ premises located at the junction of Marthall Lane and Chelford Road. The difficulty being that these premises are predicted 3 to 13 Mbps VDSL2 speeds from cabinet 10 by Openreach currently (we are more pessimistic with a 1 to 7 Mbps range in our model) and thus probably are not contributing any USC subsidy and the rearrangement will cost, but would offer Openreach, residents and Cheshire Council a path of getting superfast to around 140 premises rather than just 65.
“As your local MP, I fight for every community here in Cheshire – no matter how large or small.
I’ve been working hard with local residents in Ollerton and BT to find a way to get superfast broadband to the village. That’s because this broadband is essential to modern life – and I don’t want Cheshire to miss out. Far from Ollerton missing out, it has become the very first village in the country to benefit from this new national scheme that the government I was part of set up.
That’s great news and I hope it’s just a start in connecting up the most rural parts of Cheshire” Rt Hon George Osborne MP for Tatton
We did ask when the expected ready for service date for this cabinet will be, and a within 12 months answer was forthcoming. For any other community exploring the Community Fibre parternership scheme this is the sort of time frame we have seen for other communities that have used the project.
This infill cabinet for Ollerton is precisely the sort of thing that we are seeing a lot of in the phase II BDUK projects, and while it was always likely that Cheshire would have got around to providing a service for this area eventually, by working together residents will have hopefully brought things forward and removed a lot of the uncertaintity around when better broadband would appear in an area.
Prestbury residents can look forward to life in the fast lane after new fibre broadband street cabinets were switched on in the village. Local MP David Rutley was there to mark the arrival of the super fast broadband, along with Prestbury ward councillor Paul Findlow and Arthur Dicken, chair of Prestbury Parish Council, who cut the ribbon to declare the service up and running. Andrew Arditti, digital engagement manager at Connecting Cheshire, a partnership between BT and Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington councils, switched on the cabinets, which will be served from the local telephone exchange.
Following the switch-ons, around 1,500 premises in the Prestbury area and 80 near to Marton Heath are now able to upgrade to the super fast internet connection. The development is an important one for business owners and households with multiple devices requiring internet access. Speaking following the switch-ons, Mr Rutley said: This is more good news for local communities, who can now get the benefit of superfast broadband.
Connecting Cheshire is continuing to work hard to deliver the best service for Macclesfield residents and businesses, and I would like to thank Andrew and the team for their hard work.
There is clearly more work to be done to support all of our harder to reach rural communities in the area and I will continue to raise these concerns with BT, Cheshire East Council and Connecting Cheshire.
Residents will be able to check if their home or business can be upgraded by visiting connectingcheshire.org.uk.