Alnmouth, Lesbury and Widdrington station first to benefit from iNorthumberland project
Fibre broadband plans unveiled for thousands more homes and businesses across the county
Investment will build Northumberland’s reputation as “a great place to live and do business”;
Alnmouth, Lesbury and Widdrington Station will be the first locations to benefit from the multi million pound “iNorthumberland” project, three months ahead of schedule.
The three locations will be closely followed by other Northumberland communities in the first phase of the project which will see fibre broadband made available to thousands more homes and businesses within the next six months.
Her Grace, the Duchess of Northumberland, said: “This is exciting news for everyone who lives and works in Northumberland. I’m sure that superfast broadband will open the doors to countless business and leisure opportunities boosting the more rural areas and supporting our thriving local communities.
“I hope that everyone will take advantage of this technology when it arrives so that as a county we embrace all the benefits it has to offer.”
More than 10,700 homes and businesses across 12 communities are to be included in the first stages of iNorthumberland’s roll-out programme. In Alnmouth, Lesbury, Widdrington Station, Lynemouth, Red Row, Seahouses and Shilbottle, more than 4,400 premises will be able to benefit as fibre reaches their communities for the first time. There will also be a substantial investment in making fibre broadband more widely available in areas which already have the high-speed technology such as Berwick, Blyth, Ashington, Morpeth and Seaton Delaval.
The iNorthumberland broadband programme, a key part of the council’s growth investment, will be delivered by Arch, The Northumberland Development Company and BT. The project will build on BT’s commercial investment in the county already committed as part of its £2.5 billion overall commercial investment in UK fibre broadband.
BT was awarded the contract following a procurement exercise through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework. The company is contributing £2.9 million towards fibre deployment in “non-commercial” areas with Northumberland County Council investing £7 million plus its £7 million share of BDUK funds. The remaining £2 million is coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 1. The ERDF funding will be used to enable fibre connections for more than 2,600 small and medium sized businesses in Northumberland,
Cllr Dave Ledger, chair of Arch and deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “Superfast broadband is extremely important to the economic future of Northumberland. We are really looking forward to watching this project develop across the county, and to the council and Arch working closely together, through iNorthumberland, to bring faster broadband speeds to even more communities.”
A massive 660 km of fibre will be laid – seven times the length of the A1 stretch running through Northumberland - so that 91 per cent of Northumberland homes and businesses will have access to broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps 2 by January 2016. A further four per cent of the county will also benefit from a significant improvement in speeds of up to 25Mbps via the fibre network.
The remaining five per cent of premises will also see faster speeds as the project aims to deliver a minimum of 2Mbps or more to all homes and businesses. Towards the end of the project, BT will also look to work with communities in the final five per cent to see if fibre can be extended further through innovative collaborative projects.
Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said: “Being able to bring fibre broadband to 95 per cent of Northumberland’s homes and businesses is an ambitious but deliverable aim.
“The issue of broadband access touches virtually all aspects of rural life. Improved broadband speeds are essential for the ability and agility of rural economies to grow and be resilient. This is particularly relevant to Northumberland where a huge 96 per cent of the county is officially classified as rural.
“This announcement is another important step towards transforming broadband access to communities and businesses across Northumberland. By extending the roll-out of fibre broadband, a new chapter is beginning that will bring a better quality of life for residents across the County and provide a major economic boost by attracting more jobs and businesses to the area.”
Around 150,000 premises in Northumberland will be getting access to some of the best broadband speeds in the UK via iNorthumberland and BT’s associated commercial roll-out. The super-fast service will boost the competitiveness of local firms and offer a whole new range of flexible working, entertainment and learning opportunities for local residents. Fibre broadband benefits include users being able to send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently and having the ability to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time.
BT’s network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Northumberland consumers and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market.
The iNorthumberland project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf
80Mbps and 330Mbps are wholesale speeds. ISPs may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP
Notes to Editors:
Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio comprises three linked programmes:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services.
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk
Arch, The Northumberland Development Company, has been established by Northumberland County Council as an arms-length development company to drive capital economic development, physical regeneration projects and business growth in Northumberland. Arch brings together five subsidiary companies delivering services in housing, commercial property, physical regeneration, digital transformation and business growth. The company has a clear economic focus and will help Northumberland develop credible sites and propositions to win new jobs and businesses for the area.