New £10.73 million deal will deliver high-speed fibre broadband to thousands more homes and businesses across Solihull and Warwickshire

New Government-backed project is a first for the region

Fibre broadband coverage will reach nearly 94 per cent

Around 17,000 more households across Solihull and Warwickshire will be able to get high-speed fibre broadband following a new £10.73 million contract announced today.

The deal will extend the CSW Broadband partnership roll-out which began connecting the first homes and businesses to faster fibre broadband last April.

Today’s new deal has been spearheaded by Warwickshire County Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, which are contributing an initial £3.68 million and £0.38 million respectively, with an additional £2.61m from BT and a further £4.06m from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Superfast Extension Programme (SEP). It’s the first project in the West Midlands to be extended with SEP funding.

When complete, it will increase the percentage of homes and businesses able to access high-speed fibre broadband in Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire to nearly 94 per cent when combined with the first phase of the CSW Broadband roll-out already underway and the private sector investments of companies like BT.

Aston Cantlow, Berkswell, Eastcote, Over Whitacre, Sambourne, Tysoe and Willoughby are among the more rural communities to benefit from this new funding, making fibre broadband available to them for the first time.

Planning and surveying on the new phase will begin next year, and engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business – will start connecting the first premises towards the end of 2016. The upgrade work will continue during 2017, 2018 and into 2019.

Residents and businesses choosing to upgrade will be able to get download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second (80Mbps) and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps*. Because the Openreach network is ‘open’, people will have a choice of who they take their service from, with more than 140 fibre broadband providers currently operating in the UK.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Our rollout of superfast broadband is proceeding at pace and we’re now reaching 40,000 more homes and businesses across the UK every week. Today’s news represents a fantastic deal for homes and businesses in Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire who will now see superfast availability in their patch reach nearly 94% when the rollout completes.”

Councillor Alan Cockburn, Deputy Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “This further investment shows our ongoing commitment to supporting the rural areas of our county. It is vitally important if we are to help people in the rural areas to run profitable businesses and to have access to educational opportunities, jobs and services that they should be able to access high speed broadband.”

Councillor Ian Courts, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development & Land at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council said: “This new deal is extremely important to Solihull, helping to bring faster connectivity across the borough and particularly to the more rural area east of the M42 motorway. Good quality broadband is critical to the vibrancy of the borough, both for economic growth and social inclusion. Solihull was recently ranked as the best place to live in the UK, partly because of the good broadband we have. So, I am delighted with the progress we have made and look forward to seeing this additional investment bring real benefits to the businesses and residents of Solihull”

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said: “It’s great news that through this investment we are able to extend fibre coverage further into the rural communities of Warwickshire and Solihull, enabling residents and businesses in these communities to enjoy the benefits of high-speed broadband. Whether running a business, working from home, completing homework for school or simply keeping in touch with friends and family, access to the internet is key to us all.”

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

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