Thousands more set to go superfast thanks to £9 million Digital Durham extension

Around 28,000 extra homes and businesses to benefit in the second phase of the roll-out 

South and North Tyneside join the programme
Digital Durham has today announced that a further 28,000 homes and businesses will get access to fibre broadband as a result of the second phase of its fibre broadband roll-out.

This second phase contract will see a further £9 million invested in the programme area. It includes £2.68 million from the Government’s Superfast Extension Plan and £4 million from BT, with the remaining investment split between local authority partners.

South Tyneside and North Tyneside councils have also joined the eight other local authority partners which, alongside BT, make up the Digital Durham programme.

Councillor Jane Brown, cabinet member for Corporate Services at Durham County Council, said: “We have made a firm commitment to improving access to fibre broadband and already more than 50,000 households and businesses can now take advantage of faster, and more reliable, internet connections. It is great news that thousands more will soon be able to join them.”

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.

One of the most recent places to be upgraded is Willington, where more than 3,100 homes and businesses now have access to the new technology. Plans are underway to use superfast broadband to build on and reinvigorate the sense of community in the town.

The high-speed technology will improve activities at Willington Community Action Centre, which provides space for vital services such as a mobile police station, Citizens Advice and a range of courses including maths and English. The centre also works closely with the local job centre to support local job seekers to look for employment.

Speaking at a Digital Durham community event in Willington, Matthew Todd, development and funding officer at the centre, said: “We have ambitious plans for the centre and for Willington and are confident that having superfast broadband will help us to achieve them. The faster speeds will improve delivery of our job club programme and help us expand the services we offer.”

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: “Faster broadband is great for individuals and for businesses. And the work of Willlington Community Action Centre demonstrates it also has a part to play in supporting and enabling communities to develop and grow.

“The way we live is changing. This exciting technology can be used in many different ways, including helping to bring people together in a community centre to learn a new skill or brush up on an old one, or get support to find employment. Community spaces with high-speed broadband can improve and extend the services they offer and attract local people through their doors.”

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.

The second phase of the programme is expected to begin in 2017 and 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


For further information please contact the BT Regional Press Office on 0800 085 0660. All our news releases can be found at www.btplc.com/news

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.

About BT
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of five lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, BT Wholesale and Openreach.
For the year ended 31 March 2014, BT Group’s reported revenue was £18,287m with reported profit before taxation of £2,312m.
British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.
For more information, visit www.btplc.com.