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Early high-speed fibre boost for Windermere welcomed by local businesses and Tim Farron MP

Press release   •   Apr 13, 2014 00:00 BST

Connecting Cumbria today delivered a major boost for the county’s tourism industry 

and local people by making faster fibre broadband available to the first area of the
Lake District – nine months ahead of schedule.

Windermere, including Bowness-on-Windermere, has become the first part of
the Lake District National Park to be connected to the new fibre optic network.

Nearly 2,000 homes and businesses are now able to access it, and this figure
will rise to around 4,000 when engineers complete the upgrade work in the coming
weeks.

Tim Farron MP joined representatives from Cumbria County Council, BT,
Lake District National Park Authority and businesses in welcoming this exciting new
development.

Among the local firms looking forward to using high-speed fibre to enhance their
businesses are Windermere Lake Cruises and Mountain Goat.

Nigel Wilkinson, managing director of Windermere Lake Cruises Ltd, said: “High-
speed fibre broadband will have a transformational impact on our business systems. Until
now we have been unable to benefit from the opportunities presented by cloud computing,
and due to the very limited upload speeds available even facilities as basic as remote back-
up simply haven’t been possible.

“As we operate from various sites around Windermere, our in-house systems that
manage bookings, tills and online sales have had to be developed to operate with the limited
broadband that had been available, and the removal of these constraints will allow us to
greatly enhance our systems and improve efficiency.

“The benefits of improved broadband will be felt directly by our customers as we
have previously been unable to offer wi-fi facilities for visitors and one of our first
improvements will be to connect our already installed webcam to show live images on our
website of one of the finest views in England.”

Peter Brendling, commercial director at Mountain Goat Ltd, said: “Being a tour
company, we rely on our customers being able to book onto our tours quickly and easily.

“Like most companies, a large number of our bookings now come through the
internet. It is therefore imperative that we have fast and reliable broadband. Not only for
ourselves but as many of our customers are staying in local hotels and bed and breakfasts
and using their wireless and broadband as well.”

Tim Farron said: “Broadband is vital to local communities and will make a
massive difference. I’m delighted that the funds that we have been able to secure
from the Government are now being spent on connecting residents in the Lake
District. But we can and must do more. I will keep working and campaigning to bring
super-fast broadband to local residents.”

Cumbria County Councillor Jo Stephenson, deputy leader of the council and member
for Windermere, said: “I’m delighted that homes and businesses in Windermere can enjoy
high-speed broadband much sooner than originally planned. Windermere is the first area in
the Lake District National Park to get an upgraded exchange and it’s all been made possible
by Connecting Cumbria, so this is another important milestone for the project.

“More communities in the National Park can look forward to enjoying the benefits of
faster fibre broadband as part of the roll-out over the coming year and 93 per cent of
properties in Cumbria will have access to the fibre network by the end of 2015.”

Brendan Dick, managing director of BT Regions, said: “We realise how important
tourism, agriculture and other rural business sectors are to the local area which is why our
engineers have been working round the clock to deliver fibre to Windermere early, not only
so thousands more local people can now begin enjoying its many benefits, but also to avoid
any impact on traffic as we approach the peak holiday period.

“Rural businesses bring great benefits to the area and making fibre broadband
available to this economically important region will encourage new entrepreneurs to locate
here and help existing businesses make the most of the new digital business world we now
live in.

“Connecting Cumbria is a huge engineering undertaking but the roll-out is
progressing extremely well. Everyone is committed to delivering the best value for
the partnership, whilst of course connecting communities as quickly as possible.”

Bill Jefferson, LDNPA chairman and Connecting Cumbria partnership board member,
said: “As the UK’s largest National Park, with over 40,000 residents and almost 15 million
visitors a year, we are well aware that fibre broadband is becoming a ‘must have’ for our
communities and businesses to thrive. This marks an exciting stage in the roll-out for the
Lake District with Windermere and Bowness as one of our main gateways to the National
Park with a thriving community and visitor economy.

“Hopefully they will see immediate benefits of this fundamental digital age
technology, which I am certain will be completely transformational for small and medium
sized businesses across the park. We will continue to play our part in helping connect the
Lake District, to ensure maximum coverage.

Connecting Cumbria has so far brought faster fibre broadband within reach of more
than 25,000 homes and businesses across the county. Once an area has been enabled
people can get download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second and upload
speeds of up to 20Mbps*. It’s an ‘opt in’ service and because the Openreach network
is ‘open’, people can choose from a number of different fibre providers, ensuring
competitive prices.

The partnership, which builds on the commercial investment of BT and other
providers, will ensure at least 93 per cent of Cumbrian homes and businesses can
access high-speed fibre broadband by the end of 2015.

It is jointly funded by Cumbria County Council, BT, the Government’s
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, with additional funding from the
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Lord Clark of Windermere, chairman of the Lake District National Park
Partnership, added: “The roll-out of faster fibre broadband across the Lake District is
an agreed priority for the Partnership. It is very encouraging to see the start of it here
in Windermere. The 24 Partnership organisations from across the public, private and
voluntary sectors remain committed to making sure the Vision for the Lake District in
2030, an inspirational example of sustainable development in action, is achieved.

The undisputed benefits that high-speed broadband brings to residents, businesses
and visitors will underpin this.”

Note to Editors

*These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.

The Connecting Cumbria Project will build upon BT and other providers’ existing commercial investment to ensure at least 93 per cent of Cumbrian homes and businesses can access high-speed fibre broadband by the end of 2015, with the aspiration that all Cumbrian properties have speeds of at least 2Mbps.This includes working with some of Cumbria’s remotest communities to extend the fibre network through innovative community projects in the hardest to reach areas.

BT is contributing £15m to the project with £17.1m coming from Broadband Development UK (BDUK), £13.7m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and £5m through the Performance Reward Grant (PRG) from all councils in Cumbria. On top of this, additional ERDF and PRG funding will contribute to the roll-out and marketing of fibre broadband in Cumbria.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf
BT’s network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Cumbria consumers and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market, in turn bringing greater choice and affordable prices.

According to Ofcom, the county’s average downstream speed is currently 7.1Mbps whilst 18.8 per cent of the population receive less than 2Mbps.

Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk