West Midlands Business Council has warmly welcomed a BT announcement to speed up plans for super-fast broadband.
But it has urged the company to do even more. Glyn Pitchford, chairman of the task and finish group on next generation broadband for the City Region, said the move would boost the local economy.
“It is a good start but we want to see it extended further,” he said.
BT said more than 110,000 homes and businesses in the West Midlands would benefit. Eight BT exchanges in the region – Fallings Park, Great Barr, Leamore, Northern (Soho, Birmingham), Nuneaton, Tettenhall, Walsall and Wednesbury – are among UK locations due to be upgraded next year.
It takes in an arc over the north Black Country down through Bloxwich and Walsall and touches the northern end of the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.
The acceleration of BT’s plans will see 1.5 million UK homes have access to super-fast broadband by early summer 2010.
A million of those homes will have access by March, which is a doubling of the original pace of deployment.
The plan is the first chapter in BT’s longer-term programme to make super-fast broadband available to 40 per cent of the UK – or some ten million homes – by 2012. The company has pledged to spend £1.5 billion on the project.
John Dovey, BT’s West Midlands regional director, said: “This is excellent news for the West Midlands and continues our tradition of being a leader in the provision and adoption of broadband technologies. The West Midlands is an enterprising and innovative region, which will obtain maximum benefit from this latest major investment.
“We are working closely with regional authorities, agencies and partners across the region to ensure that we remain at the leading edge of the communications revolution.
“Broadband has played a vital part in the success story of the region. Businesses are using it to boost their competitiveness and find new customers, whilst households are benefiting from new entertainment and educational opportunities.”
Pilot projects are operating in Muswell Hill, London and Whitchurch, Cardiff.
Mr Pitchford said: “We badly need to keep pace on technology. Without this the West Midlands would struggle even more than we do to pull in inward investment. We are talking about a revolution which will get us up to 100 megabits a second from the current 2-8.”