Further £6.4m for Northumberland broadband roll-out

Openreach engineer Joanna Macneil surveying at Kielder Water as part of the iNorthumberland programme.
Openreach engineer Joanna Macneil surveying at Kielder Water as part of the iNorthumberland programme.

iNorthumberland today announced that 3,200 more homes and businesses will get access to superfast broadband thanks to a further multimillion-pound investment in the programme.

The partnership between Northumberland County Council and BT has already made fibre broadband available to around 54,500 premises across the county.

A further £6.4million will be invested in addition to the £23million fund earmarked for the programme so far. This includes £4.4million 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 £1million investment from Northumberland County Council and £1million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme, will extend the roll-out even further.

More than 40 per cent 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.

Coun 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 Alwinton, Guyzance, Boulmer, Chillingham, Doxford, Woodhorn, Tritlington, Weldon Bridge, Kirkley, Wark, Mindrum, Akeld, Cheswick and Twizell.

According to the independent thinkbroadband.com website, more than 90 per cent of the county’s premises can now get a broadband speed of 24Mbps or above.

Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) is the main technology being rolled out in Northumberland, which typically offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps, but there are more than 2,300 premises which can access ultrafast speeds using fibre to the premises (FTTP).

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.”