PERSHORE’S Number 8 Community Arts Centre played host to celebrations to mark a major milestone for a county-wide broadband project.
More than 50,000 households and businesses across the county are now able to get faster fibre broadband thanks to the Superfast Worcestershire roll-out by Worcestershire County Council and BT.
The high-speed technology is now available to more than 231,000 Worcestershire premises when the private sector’s commercial rollout of fibre broadband is also taken into account.
Parts of Pershore and Leigh Sinton have joined Alcester, Astwood Bank, Chaddersley Corbett, Droitwich, Druids Heath, Hillside, Kings Norton, Redditch, Rubery, Strensham and Upton-on-Severn as the latest communities to benefit from Superfast Worcestershire.
Residents and businesses gathered in Pershore to celebrate the milestone and Emma Bangham, programme manager at Number 8, said fibre optic broadband had benefited the venue in a number of ways.
“Not only is it faster for customers using the free wi-fi in our coffee bar, but also our projectionist can download trailers in the blink of an eye rather than having to wait for hours for them to come through,” she said.
“Faster connections for more parts of Pershore can only be a good thing.”
Pershore-based personal trainer and motivational speaker, Tracy Reck, who runs Naturally Exuberant, said upgrading to fibre broadband had transformed the way she works.
“A lot of my work is done online using videos. Without fast internet, it would take me a lot longer to write programmes and upload videos,” she said.
“I also like to update my website regularly, which is so much easier and quicker now. I also use Skype for personal training for people who can’t get to the gym.”
Ken Wigfield, Federation of Small Businesses West Midlands Area policy chairman, said: “The Federation of Small Business welcomes the news that fibre roll out in Worcestershire has achieved this significant milestone ahead of schedule.
“We firmly believe that access to high speed connectivity can open new opportunities for individual businesses and provide a boost for the area’s economic prosperity.
Coun Ken Pollock, cabinet member for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure, said: “We’re incredibly proud of what we have achieved to date through the programme.
“By June 2016, we will have enabled more than 90 per cent of the county to have access to faster fibre broadband.
“This will rise to 95 per cent when we complete our extension programme, which begins later this year.
“Residents and businesses wanting to upgrade to fibre broadband should go to the ‘How to get it’ section on the Superfast Worcestershire website for more information.”
Steve Henderson, BT’s West Midlands regional director for broadband partnerships, said: “So far our engineers have laid around 500 kilometres of fibre optic cable and installed more than 300 new fibre road-side cabinets that are needed to enable local households and businesses to connect to the network.”