Broadband project gets EU green light — but will businesses be left in the slow lane?

The CSW Broadband project moved up a gear recently when the EU granted State Aid approval, meaning that broadband projects nationally can start the procurement of broadband infrastructure. As part of this process Warwickshire County Council has engaged with suppliers to discover where they are planning to roll out superfast broadband and which areas will get the universal service commitment of at least 2Mbps. However, there are still large parts of the sub region that are not scheduled for upgrades under the commercial roll-out plans.

Cllr. Alan Cockburn, Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Communities, said: “The maps that we have published on our website show where commercial provision will offer superfast speeds, a minimum of 2Mbps, or no improvement at all. Many of those areas that are not scheduled to receive at least the minimum 2Mbps, let alone superfast broadband, are business parks and commercial areas, and even town centres, often in areas that are surrounded by residential properties that will be achieving superfast speeds,.  This seems odd given that the driver for improved broadband is the uplift in economic performance for the area. These areas are not remote, are not difficult to reach, and yet seem to have been left out of the commercial roll-out plans for some reason”.

John Whalley, owner of Nationwide Windows based on Somers Road Industrial Estate in Rugby said: “Broadband is essential to businesses – and  especially in today’s economic climate can make the difference between success or failure. We have carried out a survey on our industrial estate and most of the businesses are saying that they need faster broadband, although some are paying for leased lines. As businesses pay premium rates for their connectivity it is difficult to see why BT should leave industrial estates and business areas off their roll-out plans”.

The CSW Broadband project can only intervene in those areas where there will be no commercial provision by 2015, and has a target of 100% of premises achieving a minimum of 2Mbps and 90% of premises achieving superfast speeds. The maps showing coverage can be found at http://www.cswbroadband.org.uk/whats-happening/procurement/

Business owners are advised to respond to the consultation before 12th December, as the information received will help to shape the tender that will be going out early in the New Year.

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