Sat, 05 May 2018
WEST Berkshire has some of the fastest average broadband speeds for rural areas in the country, according to a recent report.
A study by Thinkbroadband – an independent website dedicated to providing information and news on broadband-related matters – found that the district has 98.4 per cent superfastbroadband coverage and average mean best case download speeds of 355mbps (megabits per second).
This is exceeded only by urban areas of Bournemouth and parts of central London.
The study ranked local authorities on the average broadband speed possible if everyone in the area bought the fastest available service.
West Berkshire is one of only three non-London authorities in the top 10, and is the only rural authority recognised as having exceptional upload and download speeds.
Superfast Berkshire, a joint scheme between the six Berkshire unitary authorities and Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, was started in 2011 as part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK national programme.
The scheme set out to deliver superfast broadband to areas not serviced by the commercial plans of the private sector.
In August last year, contracts were awarded to BT and Gigaclear to complete the third and final phase of the project, which will see superfast coverage brought to more than 99.5 per cent of homes across the county over the next two years.
Speaking about the findings,West Berkshire Council executive member for economic development, Anthony Chadley (Con, Birch Copse), said: “The fact that our broadband speeds are better than most of London, as well as any other major city in the UK, is something to be proud of and shows that West Berkshire offers not only excellent lifestyles opportunities for residents, but also the best possible conditions for business and industry.
“The work doesn’t stop here, though. Making West Berkshire a fantastic place to do business is one of our main priorities as a council; which is why we intend to increase our superfast coverage even further, and will have achieved full rollout by 2020.”
Newbury MP Richard Benyon hailed the report as a testament to the ‘fantastic’ legacy left by the late Roger Croft, the leader of West Berkshire Council who was killed in a car accident in France last year.
During his role as the authority’s executive for ICT, Mr Croft was instrumental in negotiating the council’s contract with Gigaclear, the company involved with rolling out broadband in ‘the most difficult to reach areas’ across the district.
Mr Benyon said: “This all fits into a narrative I’ve been talking about for some time – that West Berkshire is the best place to start and grow a business.
“I am really pleased that the results are starting to show and that we are powering ahead in terms of digital connectivity.”