Full speed ahead! Digital Durham picks up the pace

Fibre broadband plans unveiled for thousands more homes and businesses across the county 
Digital Durham today announced the first locations to benefit in phase one of the multi million pound project to transform broadband speeds across the County. 

Around 9,000 homes and businesses across 12 communities are to be included in the first stages of the roll-out programme. Cockfield, Sacriston, Sherburn Hill, Staindrop, Thornley, West Auckland and Willington 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 Bishop Auckland, Consett, Durham, Shildon and Spennymoor. 

Councillor Jane Brown, cabinet member for Corporate Services, said: “Access to fast broadband speeds is still a problem for parts of the county, especially in the more rural areas. It is great news that we are truly underway with the programme. 

“There is still a lot more to come though and we are chasing every opportunity to extend fibre broadband coverage to more businesses, homes and communities across Durham.” 

Digital Durham is a £24 million initiative to transform broadband speeds for businesses and residents across County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland and 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. 

Digital Durham builds on BT’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband, which is already making fibre broadband available in many locations across the region as part of its plan to reach around two-thirds of UK premises. 

The majority of premises will be getting access to some of the best broadband speeds boosting the competitiveness of local firms and offering new ways of flexible working, entertainment and learning opportunities for local residents. 

Faster broadband will help local businesses find new customers and become more competitive and efficient, whilst for households the high-speed technology will offer new educational, training and leisure opportunities. 
Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said: “Today’s announcement is particularly relevant to many of the rural communities named in this first phase of the Digital Durham roll-out. 

“Deploying fibre in rural areas can be a challenge but a vital one which will help local businesses to be competitive and ensure they remain in the county. It can also play a key role in attracting more firms to the county thereby helping to create jobs for local people. 

“Reliable broadband access is an integral part of 21st Century living. It’s much more than streaming video and music or online shopping: it is increasingly the way business is conducted and services are delivered. Improved broadband speeds will transform the way people are able to use the internet, both at home and work.” 

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. 

The combination of rural, urban and coastal geographies will offer various engineering challenges, but the predominant technology used will be fibre optic broadband. 

Most of the programme area will receive fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), 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 330Mbps – will also be deployed in certain areas. BT’s local network business, Openreach has also started to make FTTP technology, available on demand 2 in certain areas where fibre broadband has been deployed, and plans to expand access in due course. 

The high-speed network installed by Openreach is available on an open, wholesale basis to all communication providers, therefore offering County Durham households and businesses the benefit of real choice from a highly competitive market. 

For more information about the Digital Durham programme please visit www.durham.gov.uk 


1 80Mbps and 330Mbps are top 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 
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.