Councillor hails progress of digital Durham fibre broadband roll-out in Bishop Auckland

Around 1,000 local homes and businesses can now benefit as a direct result of the programme 

Fibre broadband is now available to around 1,000 homes and businesses in Bishop Auckland as a direct result of the multi million pound Digital Durham programme, it was announced today.
Coundon, Newfield and Leeholme are just some of the latest areas to benefit from the arrival of the high speed technology.

The Digital Durham investment was welcomed by Cllr Jane Brown, Cabinet member for corporate services at Durham County Council.

She said: “As a council we have made a public commitment to improving super-fast broadband access for residents and businesses across the county.

“We are pleased to be working with BT to improve learning opportunities for our children and young people as well as the creation of jobs for residents throughout County Durham.”

In total more than 14,000 premises in Bishop Auckland now have access to the high-speed, fibre technology. The Digital Durham investment builds on BT’s £2.5 billion UK-wide commercial roll-out, which has already made fibre broadband available to more than 13,000 homes and businesses since the Bishop Auckland exchange was upgraded in 2011.

Digital Durham is a £25 million initiative to transform broadband speeds for businesses and residents across County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland and the Tees Valley.

In April 2013 a partnership of eight local authorities, including Durham County Council, agreed a deal with BT to extend high-speed fibre broadband availability to around 94 per cent of premises by the end of 2016. It is also aiming to provide a minimum of 2Mbps broadband speeds for all within the programme area.

BT’s investment of £5.9 million bolsters the public sector investment, which includes £7.8 million from Durham County Council & Gateshead, £9.1 million Government funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and a £1.3 million contribution from public sector partners in Sunderland and Tees Valley.

In February this year more than £1 million of further funding was secured from the Rural Community Broadband Fund which will be invested to extend fibre broadband coverage in the Durham and Tees Valley areas.

The funding, along with an additional investment from BT, will enable Digital Durham to extend the reach of next generation fibre broadband coverage to 98 per cent of County Durham homes and businesses.

Fibre broadband means everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in a few minutes; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. It will also improve access to new job opportunities, and make it easier to shop around for cheaper services.

The benefits are also considerable for businesses, which can do much more in far less time. Firms can speed up file and data transfers, collaborate with colleagues and customers on conference or video calls or swap their hardware and expensive software licenses for files, processing power and software from cloud computing. Staff can work as effectively from home as they would in the office.

To bring the new technology to Bishop Auckland, more than 20 engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network businesses, have clocked up thousands of man hours of work to deploy 11 new fibre broadband cabinets and around 432 kilometres of fibre – more than 18 times the distance from Bishop Auckland to Durham City Centre, and back again.

Simon Roberson, BT’s North East regional partnership director, added: "Small enterprises are the engine room for rural local economies and super-fast broadband is now the fuel that drives them. For example, research in Cornwall revealed that 37 per cent of businesses surveyed said superfast broadband had helped them generate new sales.

“But it is not just business, from children doing their homework to caring for our elderly population and from social media, to e-commerce and home entertainment – fast broadband is the critical enabler.”

Current plans will see most of the programme area receive fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology, where the fibre runs from the telephone exchange as far as the nearest BT street cabinet. It can deliver download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps. 1

Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology where the fibre runs all the way to the home or business - delivering speeds of up to 330Mbps2 – will also be deployed in certain areas.
Unlike other companies, Openreach offers fibre broadband access to all service providers on an open, wholesale basis, which underpins a competitive market and delivers real customer choice.

For more information about the Digital Durham programme please visit www.digitaldurham.org.


180Mbps and 330Mbps are top wholesale speeds. Internet service providers (ISPs) may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP
2 Openreach will levy an installation charge for FTTP on demand. It will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that on to businesses or consumers wishing to use the product.

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

About Digital Durham
The Digital Durham programme‘s vision is to improve the economic and social wellbeing of residents, by enabling a greater access to digital services through the provision of fibre broadband and other ground breaking technologies to businesses, homes and communities in County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland and the five Tees Valley areas.

Working in partnership with BT, we aim to bring faster broadband to those areas that are outside of any commercial rollout plans. By mid 2016, we aim for at least 90% of properties to have a minimum of 24 Mbps and all premises at least 2 Mbps; and the remaining 10% to have 24 Mbps by the end of 2017.