Another 3,200 homes and businesses will get access to superfast broadband thanks to a further multi-million-pound investment in the programme.
The iNorthumberland partnership between Northumberland County Council and BT has already made fibre broadband available to around 54,500 premises across the county.
A further £6.4 million will be invested in addition to the £23 million fund earmarked for the programme so far. This includes £4.4 million* via BT thanks to efficiencies in the first phase of the roll-out and a high take-up of the fibre broadband technology by local households and businesses. This, along with a further £1 million investment from Northumberland County Council and £1 million from the Governments’ Broadband Delivery UK programme, will extend the roll-out even further.
More than 40% of Northumberland households and businesses able to upgrade to the new technology have already chosen to do so - a figure which is among the highest levels of take-up in the UK.
Cllr Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the success of the broadband roll-out so far through our iNorthumberland programme and this investment will take us even further.
“We will not rest on our laurels however and will continue to work hard to find solutions for the small number of communities which still have difficulties with connectivity and are not earmarked for an upgrade through this work. We will continue pushing to find further funding as well as technological solutions for the most hard to reach areas.”
Locations expected to be included in the extended roll-out include Tritlington, Saltwick, Chillingham, Wooperton, Spartylea, Akeld, Twizell and Sharperton.
Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) is the main technology being rolled out in Northumberland by Openreach, BT’s local network business. It typically offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps but there are more than 2,300 homes and businesses in Northumberland who can access ultrafast speeds of up to one gigabit per second (Gbps) using Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology. This figure is set to be boosted as more than 60% of the premises included in the announcement will be upgraded using the ultrafast technology.
According to the independent thinkbroadband.com website, more than 90% of Northumberland premises can now get a broadband speed of 24Mbps or above. This figure will continue to rise.
Simon Roberson, BT’s North East regional partnership director, said: “More than 152,000 homes and businesses in Northumberland can now access fibre broadband thanks to iNorthumberland and BT’s own commercial roll-out.
“The second phase of the iNorthumberland programme continues at pace and now that an extension has been agreed it makes us more determined than ever to improve broadband speeds as widely as possible across the county.
“BT’s ambition is to ‘never say no’ to any community that wants superfast broadband. We have launched a Community Fibre Partnerships programme where we work with a local group not covered by an existing fibre upgrade plan – this could be the residents of a rural village or a block of flats in a town centre or even a group of business owners in an industrial park – to find a solution to bring fibre to their area.
“We have already signed agreements with more than 200 communities and organisations to bring fibre broadband to some of the UK’s most challenging areas and are keen to have to have conversations with other communities who might benefit from this approach.”
To access the benefits of superfast broadband, residents and businesses should contact their internet service provider and enquire about an upgrade – as customers do not automatically get faster broadband once fibre broadband is available in an area.
For further information visit www.inorthumberland.org.uk
* The £4.3 million is a combination of efficiencies on contract one and BT reinvesting money due to previously agreed levels of broadband take-up being reached