Date Published: 25 June 2019
Rutland County Council aims to make Rutland one of the UK’s best-connected rural areas as part of future plans that will build on the success of its current superfast broadband network and support the introduction of next generation fibre broadband services for local homes and businesses.
The ambitious plans are set out in the Council’s Digital Rutland Strategy, which was approved by Cabinet on Tuesday 13 June and explains the steps that will be taken over the next three years to cement Rutland’s status as a UK exemplar for rural broadband.
Digital Rutland is a partnership between Rutland County Council, Building Digital UK (BDUK) and British Telecommunications Plc (BT), and has been connecting local homes and businesses to fibre broadband since 2013.
When the project began, the majority of premises in Rutland were connected to the internet over copper networks with poor average speeds. As a result, the county was placed in the lowest ranked 14% of local authority areas in the UK.
As a direct result of the Digital Rutland and together with commercial services, superfast broadband is now available to around 96% of premises in Rutland – a figure that is expected to rise to more than 97% after the current phase of the project ends.
Rutland take up rates are also the highest in the whole of the UK, with more than 65% of premises in the project area having upgraded to superfast broadband.
The Digital Rutland Strategy 2019-2022 builds on the superfast connectivity provided under the Digital Rutland project and aims to extend full fibre broadband coverage throughout the county.
Full fibre broadband is even quicker and more reliable than current superfast internet and capable of satisfying the UK’s growing demand for online services for many years to come, including the further roll out of 4G and emerging 5G mobile broadband.
The Digital Rutland Strategy has six aims which Rutland County Council will work to achieve before the end of 2020:
- Building on superfast broadband connectivity
- Extending full fibre coverage
- Facilitating 4G and 5G mobile broadband
- Connecting businesses to new opportunities
- Enabling digital delivery and service transformation
- Ensuring digital inclusion
“As an early rural pilot, Digital Rutland was at the forefront of delivering next generation fibre broadband in the UK. Our connectivity is now as good, if not better than many of the country’s larger conurbations. As a county, we are now looking to the future with the availability and demand for data services increasing and a growing number of homes, businesses and devices connected to the internet. Although the majority of our business are small, they operate in regional, national and international markets and are increasingly dependent on fast connections that can make them more efficient, more competitive, reduce costs and level the playing field with businesses in urban areas. Looking ahead, it’s also important that our local communities can benefit from and take advantage of the best possible internet services –both fixed and mobile.”
Councillor Oliver Hemsley, Leader of Rutland County Council
By 2020, the volume of global internet traffic is expected to be almost 100 times greater than it was of 2005. In the UK fixed internet traffic is set to double every two years, while mobile data traffic is increasing at a rate of 42% per year.
As a result, full fibre broadband will become increasingly important to Rutland residents and businesses as they demand more from their communications services over the coming decade and beyond.
Full fibre coverage in Rutland is currently at 19.67%, well above the UK figure of 7.57%. Under the new Digital Rutland Strategy, the Council aims achieve up to 50% full fibre coverage.
“Delivering better full fibre coverage is only part of our ambitions. We need to make sure than residents, businesses and partners all understand the benefits and applications that access to gigabit capable broadband can bring, such as allowing healthcare and educations service to make use of the very latest technology. Our strategy is ambitious but realistic and achievable for the County."
Councillor Oliver Hemsley
Following approval of the new Digital Rutland Strategy, Rutland County Council will develop a detailed plan and timescales for achieving its goals.
For more information about Rutland's superfast broadband services and how to upgrade, visit our Digital Rutland page.