Big superfast fibre boost for premises

A broadband box.
A broadband box.

The county council has signed a deal with BT to provide superfast fibre broadband to a further 3,000 premises in Northumberland by 2017.

In what is known as phase two of the iNorthumberland project, a further £4million of funding has been secured, half from the Government and half from the local authority.

Communities set to receive the upgrade include areas of Widdrington, Tranwell, Hebron, Matfen, Cresswell and Longhirst. The other locations are Burgham Park and Prestwick Park.

All of the works will be complete by the end of 2017, although it is expected that most areas will be upgraded next year.

However, once phase two has been delivered, there will still be around 10,000 to 10,500 premises with broadband speeds of 15 Mbps or below.

Northumberland County Council has identified a further £5.1million to try to extend fibre coverage to 95 per cent of premises by the end of 2017 in line with Government targets.

This consists of £1million from central government, £1million from the county council, £1.2million allocated for phase one, but now not being used, and £1.9million initial clawback funds released by BT for exceeding 20 per cent take-up of superfast broadband services.

Other technologies like satellite broadband are already available in the county, while iNorthumberland also expects the Government to announce details of a third phase in due course.

It is not yet known what technology or funding model this will use, but a number of pilots are under way.

For more details about the initiative, visit www.inorth umberland.org.uk