Plans to roll out superfast broadband to virtually every home and business in Surrey can go ahead, following a green light from the EU.
In September, Surrey County Council selected BT to create a county-wide high-speed network to help firms do business online and ensure communities get all the benefits of the digital world.
Once completed, the project will make Surrey the best connected county in the UK and could boost the local economy by at least £28m a year*.
The deal was subject to state aid approval from the EU which has now given the go ahead, paving the way for Surrey and other councils across the UK to forge ahead with superfast broadband projects. The project also needed approval from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK unit (BDUK).
Surrey will be one of the first to connect to superfast broadband.
Peter Martin, Deputy Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “We are at the forefront of superfast broadband deployment and this decision means we can go ahead and make Surrey the best connected county in the UK.
“The benefits will be huge, with an estimated £28 million boost to the economy annually. Superfast broadband is the tool our businesses need to grow, prosper and compete in a competitive market place. It is also vital for all Surrey communities to have fast, reliable internet access so they don’t get left behind.”
Surrey County Council will contribute £20m to the superfast broadband roll out, with £11.8m coming from BT and £1.3 million from the government’s Broadband Delivery UK fund.
It will ensure the county council achieves its aim of providing superfast broadband for up to 20% of businesses and homes ¬– more than 90,000 premises – not included in the commercial roll-out nationally.
Because the project is part funded from national and local government, it needed approval from the European Commission under EU State aid rules. This permission was given on Tuesday, 21 November.
Once superfast broadband is available in Surrey, people will be able to benefit from connection speeds of up to 80Mbps. Ofcom says the UK’s average broadband speed is 9Mbps.
Media requiring more information can contact Surrey County Council senior media relations officer James Oxley on 0208 541 7259.
Notes to editors
* Based on World Bank research, which showed that a 1% increase in broadband coverage results in a 0.12% rise in GDP. Surrey’s GVA – equivalent to GDP – is £28bn a year, meaning growth of 0.1% through better broadband coverage would result in a £28m boost to the county’s economy.
Superfast broadband will allow businesses to introduce many new services and applications. Big business applications driven by cloud services and data centres will be within the reach of firms of all sizes. Computer back up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high quality videoconferencing by firms and their customers will be possible.
Users will be able to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly. New fibre services are also set to transform the way consumers use the internet, from speeding up the simple sharing of pictures and video to enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available online.