Ultrafast broadband planned for groundbreaking Northumberland development

Technology joins sustainability, innovation and conservation to build the foundations of the Earth Balance development in Bedlington

A ground-breaking development in Northumberland, which will regenerate more than 160 acres of underused land in a former mining area, is set to benefit from ultrafast broadband.

The construction of England’s first Proton Therapy Cancer Centre is already underway, with other medical, health, wellbeing and fitness facilities planned for the Bedlington site. It is also intended to feature a significant number of new homes.

All of the new homes will be able to benefit from fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, which brings ultrafast speeds of up to one gigabit per second (Gbps).1.The major investment in fibre broadband will be entirely funded by Openreach, BT’s local network business.

This means that as families move into the new houses over the coming years they will have quick access to some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK, via their chosen internet service provider.

The neighbouring village of Bomarsund will also be upgraded to superfast broadband as part of the second phase of the iNorthumberland broadband programme, a partnership between Northumberland County Council and BT. 2

Dr Alan Rutherford, OBE, chairman of Earth Balance, the site owners, said: “Although the site is still in the very early stages of development, we contacted Openreach as soon as possible to arrange the optimum communications solution for the whole site.

“By working in partnership with Northumberland County Council, the local Parish Council, Openreach and iNorthumberland, we want to enable Bomarsund to be able to punch above its weight, in optimising the opportunities available thanks to the technology on offer from BT.

“This will mean everything from the ability of homeowners to enjoy the kind of smart home technology that is emerging on the market through to businesses being able to easily and securely transfer patient data as part of a global network.”

Councillor Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council said:“The Earth Balance plans for Bomarsund are extremely exciting, and I’m very pleased that the council’s iNorthumberland programme has been able to help in securing access to the most up to the minute infrastructure for both current and future development there.

“As a council we want to work with developments to unlock wider regeneration growth and the Earth Balance site is a great example of this.”

As part of ambitious plans to make ultrafast broadband speeds available to 12 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020 – ten million using G.fast and two million connected via FTTP technology – Openreach will now build FTTP infrastructure for free to all new housing developments with 30 or more homes.This is dependent on developers registering their site with Openreach and working together early in the building process as has happened with this development.

Derek Richardson, Openreach programme director, said: “Getting involved with this incredible development at such an early stage has been vitally important and very exciting. Earth Balance have shown great foresight by engaging with us as early as possible. Working with them, we have been able to plan for and accommodate the future communications needs of people living and working there. An ultrafast broadband network will be a major boost for this new community by ensuring that people living and working there have quick access to some of the fastest speeds available.

“As well as providing future residents with access to ultrafast broadband speeds, we are also building a bespoke Ethernet connection to serve the Proton Therapy Cancer Centre which has been tailored to suit their needs.

“This is a great example of what can be achieved working in partnership with developers and the local authority.”

Work on the Earth Balance site has already begun with theProton Therapy Cancer Centre expected to open its doors to the first patients in September 2017.