The leader of Northumberland County Council has expressed his disappointment at Virgin Media’s withdrawal from broadband expansion plans into the county.
Currently not available in Northumberland, Virgin Media offer broadband coverage up to Northumberland’s borders in neighbouring North Tyneside, Newcastle and Gateshead and were in talks with the council to expand their coverage into Northumberland for the first time.
However, these plans have now been halted.
Council leader, Peter Jackson, said: “We are very disappointed that Virgin Media have made the decision to halt plans to extend their broadband coverage to include Northumberland.
“We are keen to attract investment and new businesses into Northumberland and providing broadband is crucial to this and is something we were working with Virgin Media to provide.
“As a council, we have supported Virgin Media at every opportunity and have specifically flagged up approved planning applications for new housing and commercial developments while also promoting the Cable my Street website in flyers, newsletters and via our iNorthumberland superfast broadband website.
“I have written to the company expressing our concerns and have now received a response from Virgin Media that states there are some locations within Northumberland which could have previously been in scope, however, due to rising business costs they are now deemed uneconomical for them to progress.
“They have offered to meet with us in the New Year to continue our dialogue where we hope to look at potential opportunities for the future.”
A Virgin Media spokesman said: “We’re expanding our network in the North East as part of our nationwide effort to bring ultrafast broadband to new areas.
“Our expansion is entirely privately funded, so we need certain criteria to be met before building. We are committed to extending our network into areas where supportive local authorities can create the best conditions for rollout of our services.
“We’ll be meeting with Northumberland County Council soon to discuss potential ways in which we can work together to make ultrafast broadband in Northumberland a reality as quickly as possible.”