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Connecting Cheshire secures £7.25m to extend broadband roll-out

Broadband Published: Wednesday, 13th September 2017

Warrington will receive a share of £7.25m of funding to extend the roll-out of faster broadband in the borough.

The investment – to be implemented over the next three years - is the fourth phase of the ‘Connecting Cheshire’ project and will target rural areas in Cheshire and Warrington, where broadband speeds remain low and where it has not been commercially viable to invest previously.

Called ‘Digital 2020’, the project will focus on reaching premises in rural broadband black spots, a digital business support package to enable small businesses to exploit digital technologies such as e-commerce, cloud computing and a broadband connection voucher scheme for businesses. 

Funding will come mainly from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and government sources, as well as from Connecting Cheshire and businesses.

To date, the Connecting Cheshire project has reached more than 97,000 premises with faster speeds and has switched-on more than 600 new roadside fibre broadband cabinets. The project has also been successful in driving take-up of the faster speeds by homes and businesses and will soon reach 50 per cent, one of the highest in the country.

The Digital 2020 project is a partnership of Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester and Warrington Borough Councils, and is managed by Cheshire East Council's arms’ length Skills and Growth Company.

Warrington Borough Council Leader, Cllr Terry O’Neill, said: “This funding is great news for Warrington. Faster broadband will help support our economic growth and further cement our reputation as a business-friendly destination.

“More than that, faster broadband makes a real difference to local people. I have already seen the benefits investment in this area has brought to people in my own ward, as well as in other parts of the borough. It helps create better connected communities, ready to thrive in an increasingly digital world. 

“I’m looking forward to many more communities and businesses in Warrington benefiting from faster speeds, thanks to this funding.”

The process of selecting an infrastructure partner for Digital 2020 is already underway and the scope of coverage will be confirmed once the procurement process is completed. It is hoped that the programme will start its roll-out in early 2018.

The Connecting Cheshire project was launched in April 2013, for more information visit: www.connectingcheshire.org.uk 

More info

Connecting Cheshire
The project is receiving £960,000 funding from Connecting Cheshire, and will oversee a business contribution of £140,000 as part of a 20 per cent contribution to the broadband connection voucher scheme included in Digital 2020. 
For more information visit www.connectingcheshire.org.uk   

European Regional Development Fund
The project is receiving £3.61m of funding from the England Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the managing authority for the ERDF. Established by the European Union, the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding

Broadband Delivery UK
The project has been allocated £2.54m of funding from Broadband Delivery UK, (BDUK), part of the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. BDUK is delivering superfast broadband and local full-fibre networks to the nation. The government is supporting investment to:
• Provide superfast broadband coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by December 2017;
• Provide access to basic broadband (2Mbps) for all; and
• Stimulate private investment in full fibre connections by 2021

For further information, visit: www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk