Switchstaffs supports Get Online as 80,000 benefit from faster broadband

Staffordshire communities are making the switch to superfast broadband thanks to a county council partnership which has enabled 80,000 properties to connect.

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses are already benefiting from faster speeds thanks to work carried out by the county council’s £32 million Superfast Staffordshire partnership with Openreach and UK Government. The team is urging those still to upgrade to find out more during national Get Online week.

Get Online is a Government-backed campaign giving advice and guidance on how people can get more out of online services – particularly if they’re unfamiliar with the internet. In Staffordshire, people can sign up to one of the county council’s Get Digital courses, whether they’re absolute beginners or more experienced users. They can go to www.staffordshirecommunitylearning.org.uk/digital-skills or call 01543 334537.

During Get Online week, the Superfast Staffordshire team has been spreading the message about how simple it is for people to make the switch to faster broadband.

And most people can already do so. When the Superfast Staffordshire project is combined with Openreach’s own commercial rollout, more than 95 per cent of homes and businesses across the county can already choose faster broadband speeds.

Over half of properties able to connect have already done so, but it’s thought many people might not be aware faster speeds are available, think they’ve automatically been upgraded or mistakenly believe it’s going to be too expensive.

To make sure people understand their options, the county council’s broadband team run a ‘SwitchStaffs’ campaign – including a new website at www.switchstaffs.com – to give people tips and advice on how to make the switch and on different providers.

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said:

“Faster broadband can make a real difference to people’s day to day living. Get Online week aims to enable even more people to benefit and we’d urge people who are not confident with internet or IT use to enroll on one of our courses.

“The Superfast Staffordshire programme has been a huge success – enabling over 80,000 properties to connect to superfast broadband which had previously been unable to do so. Over half of those have decided to get connected. When they do so they can increase opportunities in leisure, health or study and improve business productivity if using for work. I would urge people to find out if they can get connected – it really is an easy process.

“We are pleased to have reached 95 per cent coverage across the county, but I’d again like to reassure people that we will continue to do all we can to find solutions for those not yet in included in the plan.”

Kasam Hussain, Openreach’s programme manager in Staffordshire, said:

“We have achieved a huge amount here in Staffordshire, working in partnership with our hugely supportive partners at the county council. We know there is more to do and we’re looking closely at how we can extend the reach of the programme to include those living and working in the most rural and remote areas.

“Having access to faster broadband speeds has many advantages. You’re obviously able to do things online much faster, but it also enables multiple people to go online at the same time without having a negative impact on performance. We’re increasingly depending on the internet for everyday life, so the importance of the work carried out by Superfast Staffordshire should not be underestimated.”

Superfast broadband is now considered as an important feature in the home, enabling people to access a range of leisure, education and other services and to work flexibly.

People can choose any broadband provider to get connected and can find out more on the Superfast Staffordshire website. They can also find out about broadband provision and how easy it is to switch or change provider through Ofcom’s boostyourbroadband.com website.

People can find out more about the programme and view an interactive map at www.superfaststaffordshire.co.uk

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