iNorthumberland hits the half way mark
More than 30,000 homes and businesses in the county can now access fibre broadband because of multi million pound partnership
iNorthumberland has passed the halfway mark with more than 30,000 homes and businesses now able to connect to high-speed fibre broadband as a direct result of the programme.
The multi million pound roll-out is progressing at pace and is expected to reach a total of 34,400 premises by the end of this month.
In January this year, the Duchess of Northumberland launched the first fibre broadband cabinet to ‘go live’ as Alnmouth became the first area to benefit from the superfast technology thanks to the project. Now homes and businesses in communities the length and breadth of Northumberland, including Wooler, Felton, Stocksfield and Haltwhistle, can take advantage of the benefits high-speed fibre broadband brings – with speeds of up to 80Mbps. 1
Engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, have been keeping busy - clocking up thousands of man hours and laying more than 14,000 kilometres of optical fibre in around 225 kilometres of underground cable– enough to stretch right across the county from Berwick to Blyth more than three times.
A total of 35 new exchange areas have been enabled along with the installation of 137 new green fibre cabinets. Around 126 of those cabinets are now ready to take customer orders with thousands of people already taking advantage of the increased broadband speeds. A number of areas, including around 1,500 premises in the rural communities of Allendale, Crookham, Harbottle and Wark, now have access to fibre broadband for the first time.
Jill Thompson from Blyth was quick to order the new technology and is now enjoying speeds of more than 65Mbps. She said: “My life is very busy, with work and raising a family, so anything that saves time and makes day to day life a little bit easier is worth having.
“Superfast broadband gives our whole family flexibility. We can work from home when we need to without worrying about slow speeds and we run a constant data stream from our PC. Downloading films on demand takes just a few minutes and there is no need to log our mobiles and tablets off the Wi-Fi anymore as they no longer slow it down.
“We have also signed up for a live home heating system which works over the internet and is fantastic for ensuring the house is warm when we need it to be and saving energy when we don’t. I can control it from my smartphone so gone are the days when I need to set a timer from the thermostat!”
Cllr Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “The iNorthumberland programme is already having a huge impact on the area. Residents and businesses across the county keep telling us how much of a difference it is making to be able to access high-speed broadband.
“I can’t believe we are already half way through the project and that we have already successfully secured additional funding from the Superfast Extension Plan to go even further than specified in the current plans.
“It is great to hear so many stories like that of Jill Thompson who is already seeing such a difference from upgrading to newer technology. No doubt many families will see new technology enter the household over this Christmas, so I would urge people to look at whether they too can benefit from superfast broadband.”
The iNorthumberland broadband programme, a key part of the council’s growth investment, is being delivered by Northumberland County Council and BT. 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). 2 The ERDF funding will be used to enable fibre connections for more than 2,600 small and medium sized businesses in Northumberland.
iNorthumberland recently secured funding from the Government’s Superfast Extension Plan which will be used to further extend coverage in some areas not included in the current roll-out plans.
The majority of premises in Northumberland will be getting access to some of the best broadband speeds in the UK via iNorthumberland and the commercial roll-out of fibre by BT’s local network business, Openreach. Openreach’s network will be open to all broadband service providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Northumberland households and businesses will benefit from highly competitive products and pricing.
Simon Roberson, BT’s North East regional partnership director, said: “The iNorthumberland programme has made substantial progress since the first fibre cabinet went live back in January this year and it is exciting to hear about the real benefits that people are already experiencing from having this technology.
“In the modern world, digital connectivity is the “fourth utility” alongside gas, electricity and water. 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.”
1 These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
2 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