The West Midlands is on track to become the first 100 per cent broadband enabled region in the UK thanks to a link up between regional development agency Advantage West Midlands and network services provider and systems integrator QiComm.
AWM, through the West Midlands Networking Company (WMNC), has already contracted with BT to enable the final 24 ADSL exchanges in the region, the first of which becomes enabled this week.
In January, it was announced that Avanti would provide broadband services to a large number of hard to reach areas with their advanced satellite and wireless technology, again through a contract with WMNC.
The QiComm contract means the final 0.0 per cent of households and businesses in the region that still cannot access broadband will be able to get connected.
Such households and businesses are based in very remote rural areas where conventional technology cannot reach.
Making affordable broadband services available in these areas had not been considered economically viable by private sector suppliers on their own, but a recent European Commission decision means that public sector intervention can now assist by improving infrastructure and therefore make it possible for suppliers to offer broadband in rural areas at market rates available to the rest of the West Midlands.
QiComm will be providing broadband using a Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity)/WiMAX solution, which gives users within the range of a base station access to high-speed inter-net access.
QiComm will be using a carefully positioned web of local base stations to cover an area. The local networks will connect to QiComm's operations centre in London via its high capacity network. The project will help to close the digital divide that currently exists
between the remaining rural communities without broadband and their urban counterparts.
Richard Hyde, chairman of WMNC said: "We're delighted that the deal with QiComm means that the West Midlands region will be 100 per cent broad-band enabled.
"Our next challenge is to ensure that people are utilising the technology to its full advantage."