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Super-fast fibre broadband goes live in Sunderland


More than 59,000 local homes and businesses to benefit from BTís £2.5 billion roll-out; local communities encouraged to get connected

High-speed fibre broadband is now available to the first homes and businesses in Sunderland, Sunderland North, Ryhope and Washington.

More than 59,000 local households and firms are joining the high-speed revolution as engineers complete the local investment in the coming weeks.

These areas follow Hetton-le-Hole, East Herrington and Houghton-le-Spring where fibre is already available. A number of premises in the Sunderland district served by the Fencehouses exchange also have access to the higher speeds.

Additionally some premises in Sunderland served by the Boldon exchange are also due to be upgraded and by the end of this year more than 101,000 homes and businesses across the city will be able to benefit as a result of BTís £2.5 billion fibre roll-out programme.

Farooq Hakim, BT regional director for the North East, said: ďAs someone who lives and frequently works in Sunderland I can personally vouch that fibre broadband unlocks a whole new world to internet users. Whatever youíre doing online, you can do it better and faster with fibre. Itís great for education, shopping, entertainment, the social networking we now carry out routinely online and it also offers huge benefits for businesses and public services.

ďBTís fibre network is expanding rapidly across Sunderland bringing a boost for local economies wherever it goes. Research suggests that over the next 15 years BTís super-fast broadband investment could give the economy of a typical city a £296 million* boost, create around 430 new jobs and 320 new start-up businesses, whilst for a typical town the figures are expected to be £143 million, 225 new jobs and 140 business start-ups.

ďThe arrival of fibre can really help local firms in these economically challenging times, opening up new ways of working and speeding up vital operations, such as file and data transfers, conferencing and computer back-up, all of which may also help cut costs.Ē

BTís fibre footprint currently passes more than 12 million UK homes and businesses. It is expanding all the time and is now due to pass two-thirds of UK premises Ė around 19 million premises Ė during Spring 2014, at least 18 months ahead of the original timetable. 2

Openreach, BTís local network business, is primarily deploying fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology, where the fibre runs from the exchange to a local roadside cabinet. FTTC offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps3 and could deliver even faster speeds in the future.

From Spring 2013 Openreach aims to make fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, where the fibre runs all the way to the home or business, commercially available on demand4 in any area where fibre broadband has been deployed. FTTP-on-demand will offer the top current download speed of 330Mbps3. According to the regulator Ofcom, the current average UK broadband speed is 9Mbps.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "To ensure the future success of our city we need the right building blocks in place. One of these is having the digital technology to support our people, our place and our economy. We want to ensure Sunderland offers residents, businesses and investors an open, accessible and connected place to live, work, study and invest. We are delighted that Sunderland has been able to work with BT to lead the way in the adoption of this new technology and encourage people to get connected via their chosen service provider.

ďThereís no doubt that residents and businesses will benefit from this major investment, as the demand for high speed internet access increases. We live in times of unprecedented change and so we need to remain bold and innovative to ensure the city and its people achieve their ambitions and potential"

At home, fibre broadband enables a family to simultaneously download a movie, watch a TV replay service, surf the internet and play games online all at the same time. A whole album can be downloaded in less than 30 seconds and a feature length HD movie in less than 10 minutes, whilst high-resolution photos can be uploaded to Facebook in seconds

Unlike other companies, Openreach offers fibre broadband access to all service providers on an open, wholesale basis, underpinning a competitive market. For further information on Openreachís fibre broadband programme visit

Notes to editors
1 Research taken from Social Study 2012 Ė The Economic Impact of BT across the UK by Regeneris Consulting Ė see for more information.
2 BTís deployment plans are subject to an acceptable environment for investment.
3 These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
4 Openreach will levy an installation charge for FTTP on demand. It will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that on to businesses or consumers wishing to use the product.
Due to the current network topography, and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Openreach is considering alternative solutions for these locations.


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