Local MP, Rory Stewart, has welcomed the latest achievement to secure high-speed fibre broadband to over half of the businesses and homes in Cumbria, in his on-going campaign to ensure the county has the best superfast broadband in Europe. Reaching this latest landmark means that around 121,000 premises in the county now have speeds of at least 24 mb/s, and ensures The Connecting Cumbria project – a partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT – remains on track to be finished by the end of 2015.

More than 70,000 man hours been amassed so far, with 350 kilometres of fibre optic cable laid, and 48 new green fibre street-side cabinets installed. The half-way point was reached in part by the surge in work by the partnership between March and May, when Connecting Cumbria made fibre broadband available to a further 13,216 homes and businesses. As a result, a number of areas which previously had no fibre broadband at all have now been connected for the first time.

Speaking at a stall setup in Brampton to educate local residents about the latest improvements to broadband in their area, Rory Stewart said: “It is fantastic to have reached this milestone, but the challenge remains to continue rolling out fibre as deeply and widely across Cumbria as possible. Cumbria can benefit from broadband more than any other region in the UK, and for those areas that now have broadband, we need to ensure we are making the most of it; be it in healthcare, education or strengthening our small, rural businesses.”

Ed Vaizey, communications minister, said: “The Government subsidised national rollout of superfast broadband continues at pace and I’m delighted to hear that the Connecting Cumbria project has already passed the halfway mark.

“Cumbria’s homes and businesses will have access to superfast broadband as a result of this project, providing a significant boost to the local economy.

Councillor David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for economic development, said: “This is a significant milestone that has been achieved on time thanks to the dedication of everyone involved in the programme who are all working tirelessly on this project.

It is hoped that 93 per cent of Cumbria’s 240,000 homes and businesses will have access to fibre broadband by the end of December 2015, with everyone in the county achieving speeds of at least 2 Mbps are available to all.

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, added: “Fibre broadband will bring the digital world right to the doorsteps of homes and businesses across the county.

“It enables local small businesses to compete on an equal footing with larger firms, and means that families in rural areas are better connected and able to do more online than ever before.

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