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South Yorkshire pioneers 'Super-Fast Broadband' with multimillion pound project

23 Apr 2009

Following the Government’s 2009 budget statement to confirm approval for Digital Region, Digital Region Ltd today announces the roll-out of ‘Super-fast Broadband’ across South Yorkshire, putting the South Yorkshire region at the forefront of the digital communications agenda and marking a significant change in com¬munications technology for Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

The project has been developed in South Yorkshire by Yorkshire Forward, in partnership with the four Local Authorities of Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster and Sheffield City Council, who together have attracted European, regional, local and private investment of over £90m.  The project, now managed by Digital Region Ltd., is expected to stimulate significant job creation in the region in the near future.

Digital Region Ltd has appointed an experienced team, led by Thales UK and including Alcatel-Lucent and KCOM, to build, manage and operate the state-of-the-art fibre-optic cable infrastructure on behalf of Digital Region.  Collectively these companies have extensive experience delivering large-scale networks and communications projects.

‘Super-fast Broadband’ will provide a high-speed, open-access infrastructure, offering 25mb or above of guaranteed bandwidth and quality of service to the majority of homes and businesses in South Yorkshire, reaching 1.2 million people. The provision of this level of broadband service will transform the region, creating inward economic and social investment to bridge the growing digital divide.

In January the Government published its interim Digital Britain report, which includes a vision for next-generation broadband provision in the UK. The Digital Region project in South Yorkshire has been a catalyst in this area and continues to follow the key principles of the UK Governments Digital Strategy, which is now being led through the Digital Britain initiative.

This new service will support existing companies by enabling them to develop products and services for the digital age and attract inward investment to the region from those companies leading the way in the new digital economy. The network will also enable the delivery of more effective public services especially in areas like home healthcare and education. It will support more flexible working practices by enabling home as well as office based working.

Minister for Yorkshire and Humber, Rosie Winterton, says: "I am absolutely delighted that the Digital Region investment for South Yorkshire has been agreed today.  This £90m plus programme will provide super-fast broadband services to over one million people in this part of the region, benefiting families and businesses alike as early as next year.   This will place South Yorkshire in the forefront of technological change, and will put the sub-region in a much stronger position to be able to benefit from the up-turn when it comes."

Trevor Shaw, Executive Director of Finance for Yorkshire Forward comments: “Ensuring Yorkshire and Humber is at the forefront of digital technologies has always been a priority of ours as the region’s Development Agency and a vital part of developing our economy, which is especially important in light of the current economic climate. Digital Region does this on a global scale and is the first giant leap in ensuring that our region is a truly digital one. Businesses in South Yorkshire will be able to increase their competitiveness, develop new products and business models and use IT in a variety of different ways as a result of this initiative – something we can be proud of as a catalyst for this project.”

In addition to a 25mb+ fast connection, Digital Region will also provide guaranteed bandwidth and quality of service, which will support the delivery of a wide range of new and exciting services from tele-medicine to the fast download of movies. The new fibre-optic based network has been designed to support future technology development keeping South Yorkshire at the forefront of the digital world.

Alex Dorrian, CEO Thales UK, says: “In the UK Thales has a long and successful record of building, maintaining and managing major telecommunication infrastructures – including the telecommunications networks for the UK mainline rail network and the underground in London. Thales UK is pleased to be leading such a strong and experienced team.”

Work on building the digital infrastructure will commence straight away, with the first service available before the end of the year. The first homes will be able to take up services during 2010. Connection to the network will be available through a range of service providers, national, regional and local.

For further information on DRL and its launch events please visit: www.digitalregion.co.uk

ENDS

Notes to Editors
Yorkshire Forward
• Yorkshire Forward is the Regional Development Agency behind the economic regeneration of Yorkshire and Humber. It aims to make a positive difference by investing in jobs, improving towns and cities, and in supporting businesses throughout the region.
• Yorkshire Forward’s investment across the region is maximised by attracting European Regional Development Funding from the Objective One and Two programmes.
• For further information, images or to arrange an interview, please contact Leona Thompson, Press Officer on 0113 3949589 or email Leona.thompson@yorkshire-forward.com