Phil Wilson MP hails “huge benefits” of superfast broadband as high-speed technology arrives in Thornley

Around 3,000 local homes and businesses can now benefit from faster broadband speeds thanks to Digital Durham 

Phil Wilson MP today hailed the “huge benefits” of super-fast fibre broadband as he opened a community event in Thornley to mark the arrival of the technology in the village.

Fibre broadband is now available to around 3,000 Thornley homes and businesses, thanks to the Digital Durham programme.

Nine of ten planned fibre broadband cabinets in Thornley and nearby Wheatley Hill and Ludworth, have already been installed as part of the Digital Durham roll-out, with a further upgrade to reach another 300 premises set to be completed by Summer 2015.

The MP for Sedgefield joined representatives of Digital Durham, BT and school children from Thornley Primary School, to celebrate the roll-out of the new technology in Thornley, which is already available to around 40,000 premises across his constituency.

He said: “It’s great to come here today and mark the arrival of super-fast broadband in the village. The technology will undoubtedly create huge benefits for this community as it has to dozens of other communities within my constituency.

“In just a matter of weeks, many people in Thornley have already upgraded to fibre and I’ve enjoyed hearing about the many different ways they are using and benefitting from it. It is also fantastic to see others here today who have come to learn more about this technology and the impact it could have in their home or business.”

Cllr Jane Brown, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for corporate services, said: “We are delighted that 3,000 homes and businesses in Thornley are now able to access fibre broadband.

“As a council, we are committed to helping residents and businesses across the county get connected to fibre broadband, which will help improve access to jobs, allow local companies to compete in the global marketplace, create new opportunities for local people in the way they work, learn and enjoy their leisure time, and help young people make use of educational resources online.”

Already hundreds of home and businesses in Thornley have ordered the fibre broadband and are now enjoying faster broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps. 1

One of the first to benefit from the technology was Thornley Village Centre. Jude Grant, chair of the management group running the centre, said: “The centre hasn’t been open very long so we still have lots of plans to put in place, but super-fast broadband has been invaluable in helping us promote the centre using social media. As well as a website, we have launched Twitter and Facebook accounts, which enable us keep people informed about up and coming activities and classes quickly and easily.

“We hope to exploit the technology further in the coming months and are exploring services and activities we could offer visitors which will take advantage of the faster speeds.” .

The high-speed network installed by BT’s local network business, Openreach, is available on an open, wholesale basis to all companies offering broadband services so households and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market.

The technology can boost the competitiveness of local firms and offer new ways of flexible working, entertainment and learning opportunities for local residents.

Jennifer Watt, head teacher of Thornley Primary School, said: “All the staff are very pleased that fibre broadband is coming to our village. Digital technology is increasingly important in helping young people equip themselves for their future and it is important that they keep up with the rapid advancements being made.

“In addition, having access to online resources at home will enable pupils to use interactive and engaging ways in which to accelerate and enhance their learning. High speed broadband will enable them to access multi-media websites where they can use video, sound, animation and conferencing. It will transform learning and help to bridge the digital divide giving every child an equal chance to succeed. “

At home, 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.

Simon Roberson, BT’s North East regional partnership director, said: ““The issue of broadband access touches virtually all aspects of life. Improved broadband speeds are essential for the ability and agility of economies to grow in this digital age.

“As well as superfast broadband being good for economic growth, fibre broadband makes a positive impact on the way we live. It helps us work better and faster, enables schoolchildren to access their homework online, helps provide care for our elderly population as well as offering improved access to e-commerce, social media and home entertainment. For all of these things fast broadband is the critical enabler.”

The Digital Durham broadband programme is delivered by Durham County Council and BT. In total, £34 million has been invested by BT, Durham County Council, Gateshead Council, Government funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and public sector partners in Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and the Tees Valley.

By the end of the roll-out 97 per cent of premises within the programme area will have access to fibre broadband.

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


180Mbps is the top wholesale speed. 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

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, the five Tees Valley areas, North Tyneside and South Tyneside.

Working in partnership with BT, we aim to bring faster broadband to those areas that are outside of any commercial roll-out plans. By mid-2016, we aim to bring superfast broadband speeds to at least 94% of the programme area, with a minimum of 2Mbps for all.