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FUNDING is now in place to fit the final pieces in Northumberland’s broadband jigsaw.

The £1.3million iNorthumberland loan scheme, the first of its kind in the country, has been set up to encourage wireless and satellite broadband operators to set up and deliver services.

It will focus on areas that will not benefit from the recently-announced contract with BT, which will deliver superfast broadband services to 91 per cent of the properties in the county.

The three companies that will take out agreed loans from the county council over a three-year period to cover the remaining nine per cent are wireless broadband operator Briskona and satellite broadband operators QSat and Avonline.

In most cases, the loan will be paid to the company after a property has been connected to ensure the funds are only released when the firm has a means of repaying the loan to the authority.

Kate Roe, deputy chief executive at Northumberland County Council, said: “The contract signed last week with BT means that 91 per cent of properties in the county will have access to superfast broadband speeds in the next few years.

“This scheme will ensure that the rest of the county can benefit too and help us to secure maximum coverage for Northumberland. This is vitally important for businesses and residents based in rural areas.”

Much of this technology can deliver download speeds in excess of 20mbps.

One of the project’s aims is to help companies offer free or subsidised equipment so those who can’t afford to pay the upfront costs required for these types of broadband are not disadvantaged.