More than two million homes and businesses across the West Midlands are now able to access faster fibre broadband, including more than 215,000 premises in the Marches.
The head of BT’s superfast fibre broadband programme in the UK highlighted the ‘rapid progress’ being made in the West Midlands as the region’s fibre broadband coverage passed the two million mark.
Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said: "More than two million homes and businesses across the West Midlands now have access to faster fibre broadband and this figure is growing by about 3,500 premises every week.
"The roll-out of fibre broadband in the West Midlands represents a major success story and a significant investment of many hundreds of millions of pounds from BT as well as our public sector partners.*"
Faster fibre broadband is proving particularly popular in parts of Bomere Heath, Craven Arms, Cross Houses, Donnington, Market Drayton and Pontesbury with 165,000 premises in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin now connected and more than 55,000 across Herefordshire.
The milestone has been welcomed by the Federation of Small Businesses as a huge boost for local firms.
Ken Wigfield, West Midlands area policy chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Two million premises with access to high-speed broadband is a marvellous milestone in the evolution of this crucial, national infrastructure. Whilst many small businesses operating in and around domestic premises have benefited from this gradual progress, it is great to know that recent expansions of the network are enabling more and more businesses to acquire a level of connectivity that is essential for modern-day commerce.
"We look forward to speedily reaching the next milestone in order to bring the advantages of greater bandwidth to every member of the business community."
Bill Murphy added: "Rapid progress is being made. Already, more than 360,000 households and businesses in the region have chosen to take advantage of the great opportunities offered by this exciting technology and the number is increasing all the time.
"Every day we’re hearing how people are using high-speed fibre broadband in new and exciting ways. It can save businesses and homeworkers time and money and enable them to share information with their customers and suppliers more easily. While in the home, families can use different devices at the same time – for homework, catch-up television, research and online shopping – without losing their connection.
"A tremendous amount has already been achieved, but much remains to be done. Rolling out high-speed broadband is a huge engineering challenge, particularly in some of the more remote rural areas of the region.
"It involves the installation of hundreds of thousands of kilometres of optical fibre and thousands of fibre broadband cabinets. But we have the expertise and commitment to make it available as widely and quickly as possible."