Connecting Cumbria celebrates progress on its Digital Infrastructure Strategy

Digital infrastructure, both fixed line broadband and mobile connectivity, has become increasingly critical for all residents, businesses and visitors in Cumbria.

Since launching the Digital Infrastructure Strategy in November 2020, Connecting Cumbria, working on behalf of Cumberland Council and Westmorland and Furness Council has made significant progress in delivering projects and programmes to improve connectivity across the county.

An update report has been prepared describing progress and can be viewed here.

Highlights include:

  • Broadband services of at least 30Mbps are now available to 95 per cent of properties in Cumbria, with more than 50 per cent of properties able to access gigabit capable services.
  • Coverage of 4G mobile services from all four major Mobile Network Operators has also improved and outdoor geographic coverage has reached around 90 per cent of Cumbria geography from at least one mobile network and almost 63 per cent from all four mobile network operators.
  • More than 400 additional properties have been supported by the Cumbria specific top-up vouchers in community schemes which are delivering gigabit capable connectivity to up to 5,900 premises.
  • Cumbria is the regional pilot for the UK Gigabit Programme (Project Gigabit). A contract worth £108.5million has been awarded to Fibrus by the Government to deliver gigabit capable services to up to 60,000 properties in Cumbria which are not expected to be covered through commercial deployments or voucher projects.  This programme has to date delivered gigabit services to more than 2,000 premises.
  • Connecting Cumbria continues to engage with Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited who are delivering the Shared Rural Network programme which has a UK-wide target of 80 per cent 4G coverage from all four Mobile Network Operators by 2025 in Cumbria and 97 per cent from at least one. This work will be achieved by a combination of commercial investment in areas with partial coverage and £500m of public funded investment into areas with no coverage from any operator.
  • The Connecting Cumbria team is also working with the Home Office, whose Extended Area Scheme for the Emergency Services is seeking to deliver in the most rural total not-spots and will contribute to the SRN programme
  • Following a successful bid, Cumberland Council has been awarded £3.8million on behalf of the Borderlands to deliver the Borderlands 5G Innovation Region programme which focuses on the tourist economy.

Whilst there have been significant achievements, continuing to improve digital connectivity will be essential over the coming years so that Cumbria can at least match or exceed the coverage in other parts of the UK.

Cllr Dyan Jones, Digital Champion for Digital Infrastructure for Westmorland and Furness Council, said: “A huge amount of progress has been made in improving digital connectivity and it is essential that we continue this work to support our vision for Westmorland and Furness to be ‘a great place to live, work and thrive’. There is still a lot of work to do to help develop the universal futureproof infrastructure our businesses and services need in tandem with ensuring that all of our communities catch up with the rest of the UK. Digital connectivity will play a central and ongoing role in supporting greater social inclusion to all local businesses and residents in Cumbria”.

Cllr Chris Southward, Cumberland Council’s Cabinet Member for Digital Connectivity and Customer Focus and Digital Champion, said: “Improving digital infrastructure is a top priority in Cumberland Council’s plans to be a high performing organisation which provides excellent, efficient and enterprising services for everyone, supporting the growth of a low carbon economy and help for those affected by extreme weather events, tackling inequality and exclusion in all aspects of society.  Digital connectivity and technology, in close collaboration with residents and partners, are central to achieving these aims.  I am proud to work alongside the Connecting Cumbria service to strive towards expanding access to resilient connectivity to ensure that no-one and no place in Cumbria is left behind.”

Find out more on the Connecting Cumbria webpage:

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