This week’s guest column comes from Coun Marion Brighton, leader of North Kesteven District Council...
Having been a key priority for North Kesteven District Council for some time, I am delighted that improved broadband connectivity has now become a reality for many thousands of residents.
Thanks to an initiative pioneered by a partnership of councils, including North Kesteven, thousands of district homes now have access to better broadband.
While commercial operators are focused on upgrading networks and exchanges, principally in larger towns and villages, there are many communities that are more commercially peripheral and require the intervention of OnLincolnshire to be brought up to speed.
NKDC has contributed £600,000 towards the OnLincolnshire partnership of local authorities, BT and European development funding which is making a £48m investment in upgrading broadband capacity across the county to have at least 2 Mbps available everywhere and most homes able to access download speeds of at least 24 Mbps by 2016.
Historically North Kesteven has had poor connectivity, being grossly inadequate or blatantly non-existent in significant areas.
Building on BT’s own commercial rollout of technology into its exchanges in more profitable and easily-resolved areas such as Sleaford, North Hykeham and our larger settlements, OnLincolnshire is bringing better broadband into more-rural areas. In the last few months telephone exchanges serving parts of Sleaford, Ruskington, Metheringham, Navenby, Heckington, Waddington, Billinghay and Washingborough have been upgraded covering just over 10,000 households.
Everyone in these areas will now have access to speeds of at least 2 Mbps, with some having ‘superfast’ speeds. They may have seen an improvement already or they may need to contact their broadband provider to check availability and upgrade their contract.
Most of the rest of North Kesteven will follow on in 2015, with nearly all communities set to have faster broadband access enabled by the end of the year through the OnLincolnshire broadband initiative, which remains on target to bring better broadband to more than 50,000 homes, increasing at a rate of 1,000 a week.
Faster broadband is good for keeping in touch with friends and accessing more advantageous utility deals, pensions and banking online. It also helps smaller firms set up at home or in remote rural workshops. It can be a factor in the price and speed of house sales.
With so many tangible benefits arising from better connectivity, the district council is very proud to be supporting its extension to all parts of the district.