The announcement that Openreach has chosen Salisbury to be the first entire city in the UK to receive ultrafast full fibre broadband is a huge boost.
I have been lobbying for this for a long time and I am hopeful we will receive a significant economic fillip as a result. This is a nationally important infrastructure project, evidenced by the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer came to Salisbury for the launch.
In the wake of last year’s terrible events, my thoughts have been constantly preoccupied with ways I can help Salisbury bounce back brighter, stronger and more resilient than before. There could be no better boost to our existing businesses and draw to individuals and companies working in the online arena than for Salisbury to offer not just a beautiful environment to live but the best connectivity anywhere in the UK.
Of course, I realise not everyone lives or works in the city, and many villages and outlying areas are equally desperate to see improvements to their broadband speeds. A number of people, although happy for Salisbury, are asking whether their village can also be part of the ‘roll-out’.
I am, naturally, keen to see Openreach include as many properties as possible and, at the time of writing, am awaiting publication of their full plans with eager anticipation.
However, what is happening in Salisbury cannot yet be called a roll-out – it is so far in advance of that. We are to be the first city-sized test bed for speeds that are revolutionary – next generation communications technology.
I am delighted that, after countless conversations over many months, Salisbury has been selected from the long list of towns and cities that competed for the chance to have this head start on the rest of the country. I, too, am impatient for this trial to be a success and for better speeds to roll out everywhere as soon as possible.
However, in the meantime, I cannot begrudge Salisbury the huge competitive advantage that being this far out in front of the rest of the country will give it, and I am excited by the benefits it will bring to the economy of the entire area.
John Glen MP and City Minister