TWO Wigan communities have entered the broadband fast lane.
British Telecom has answered a long-running resident campaign by installing new fibre optic cabling in Ashton and Atherton as part of a £2.5bn regional roll-out.
Another 40,000 homes and businesses across the area will be able to get the service as a result of extra investment in communities already included in BT’s continuing commercial installation.
The upgrade later this year will take the total number of premises with access to fibre broadband in Greater Manchester to more than 996,000.
BT regional director for the North West, Mike Blackburn, said: “This is another important step forward for Greater Manchester. High-speed digital connectivity is vital to our long-term success. BT’s investment in fibre broadband allows communities to create new opportunities, growth and future potential.
“Anything you can think of doing online, you can do better with fibre broadband. It is a vital part of households and businesses making the most of the amazing opportunities increasingly offered by the internet.”
Campaigner Ashton councillor Nigel Ash said: “I am delighted that BT Openreach have made such a massive investment in Ashton in these tough economic times.
“Anything that makes our local businesses more interconnected in this digital age must be a good thing.
“This will help to create economic opportunities for the future and create growth within the area.
“Ashton’s residents will also benefit from the quicker download speeds that this investment in high speed fibre broadband will bring them.”
Matthew Kershaw, digital infrastructure policy manager at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce incorporating Wigan, said: “Next generation internet access is a fantastic enabler for businesses, employees and residents. The new services that the technology makes accessible are a huge boost for productivity, competitiveness, profitability and quality of life.
“Greater Manchester Chamber welcomes the announcement that BT will be investing in expanding their super-fast broadband coverage to more locations within GM, and look forward to its rapid deployment.”
BT’s local network business, Openreach, will be making fibre broadband available to two-thirds of UK homes and businesses by the end of spring 2014.
The roll-out uses a mix of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP) technologies.
More than 13 million UK premises can already access fibre broadband and this number is growing by around 100,000 every week.
Both technologies offer speeds many times faster than the current UK average, reported by the regulator Ofcom to be 9Mbps. FTTC, where fibre is delivered to new street cabinets, offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps1.
FTTP, where fibre runs all the way to homes and businesses, offers a variety of download speeds with the current top speed being 330Mbps1.
From spring the company are pledging that it will start to make speeds of 330Mbps1 available on demand in any area where Fibre To The Cabinet has been deployed.