£5.6 million digital hotspot drive launched in Cambridgeshire
A new Delivering Digital Connectivity Strategy is being launched with £5.6million investment from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to significantly improve mobile, broadband and public WiFi coverage, whilst securing future proof full fibre and 5G networks.
The funding will be used to extend the Connecting Camb-ridgeshire programme, led by Cambridgeshire County Council, which has already successful rolled out superfast broadband access to over 96 per cent of the county and is on track to achieve 99 per cent by 2020.
The programme is among the first in the country to launch a dedicated Enabling Digital Delivery team that will work with telecoms providers and mobile operators to remove the barriers to the rapid delivery of digital connectivity, make best use of public sector assets and attract private sector investment.
Over the next four years, Connecting Cambridgeshire will target a significant increase in the full fibre footprint across the area, improvements in voice and data mobile coverage (2G & 4G), better public access Wifi in market towns and villages, and trialling of 5G – the next generation of mobile services
The programme has also been allocated £4m additional Government Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) funding to provide fibre upgrades to around 30 public buildings, increase full fibre availability along a ‘digital innovation corridor’ from St Ives to Linton and support businesses to access Gigabit fibre networks.
James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority said: “Digital connectivity is a vital part of our area’s infrastructure. The Combined Authority is committed to our region having ‘outstanding’ digital connectivity that will support the growth of our local economy and improve the day to day lives of our residents.
“A strong mobile and broadband network is key to enable us to remain competitive in the national and international marketplace through the use of smart technology.
“We also want to see greater access to public Wi-Fi, which is why we are keen to extend free public access more widely, particularly across our market towns.
“Since the formation of the CPCA just over a year ago we have recognised the impact of digital connectivity infrastructure on businesses and communities and as a result we have prioritised funding for an ambitious digital connectivity strategy for the area to ensure that we have the digital connectivity services we need for now and for the future.”
Councillor Steve Count, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, added: “This is a golden opportunity to build on Connecting Cambridgeshire’s experience and track record of successful delivery, which has established Cambridgeshire as a leading digital county.
“Take-up of superfast broadband in this region is among the highest in the country, showing that the demand and appetite to remain at the leading edge of digital connectivity is important for our businesses and communities.
“We live in a digital world where the internet has become the fourth utility. By working together with the Combined Authority and telecoms operators, we can meet the ever increasing demand for digital and mobile connectivity which is vital to support economic growth and help our communities to thrive.”
• PHOTOGRAPH: Mayor James Palmer and County Council Leader, Steve Count, launch bold digital connectivity plans for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with technology and telecoms leaders, including David Cleevely (right) chairman of Raspberry Pi.