MORE than 400 premises in Halton can now upgrade to superfast fibre broadband as Connecting Cheshire’s roll-out goes live.

The £28.5m partnership has announced its new fibre-optic network, bringing speeds of up to 80 megabits per second.

It is the first phase of a programme to reach 15,000 homes and businesses.

Halton Council leader Clr Rob Polhill said the network would boost the local economy and help to create and protect jobs.

He said: “Access to high-speed access to the internet has never been more important, whether you are a small business wishing to build your company, a student taking advantage of online learning resources, an elderly person living on their own or a family making use of online shopping and entertainment or just keeping in touch with friends and family.

"In today’s rapidly-moving world, fast and sophisticated communications are absolutely vital.”

The partnership’s network will reach 80,000 homes and businesses. This is in addition to BT’s commercial investment across Halton, Cheshire and Warrington.

More than 100 engineers and planners from Openreach, BT’s local network business, has taken on the challenge of bringing fibre to Cheshire.

They will upgrade exchanges and networks with more than 875 miles of fibre-optic cable. More than 400 new road-side cabinets will be installed as part of the project.

Mike Blackburn, BT’s north west regional director, said the completion of the first phase of the partnership’s work within 12 months was an engineering triumph.

He said: “The BT team is working flat out to bring high-speed broadband to Cheshire, Halton and Warrington. This is a complex engineering task that will ensure people and businesses across Cheshire can have fibre broadband as part of their everyday lives and work.”

By the end of 2015, 400,000 premises, around 96 per cent, will have access to high-speed broadband.

Residents and businesses can check availability of fibre broadband by contacting their broadband provider or by visiting