iNorthumberland broadband rollout reaches halfway point

The iNorthumberland project has passed the halfway mark with more than 30,000 homes and businesses now able to connect to high-speed fibre-optic broadband as a direct result of the programme.

The multimillion-pound roll-out is progressing at pace and is expected to reach a total of 34,400 premises by the end of this month.

Homes and businesses in communities the length and breadth of Northumberland, can take advantage of the benefits high-speed fibre broadband brings – with speeds of up to 80Mbps.

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.

Coun 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 halfway 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.”

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 £2.9million towards fibre deployment in ‘non-commercial’ areas with Northumberland County Council investing £7 million plus its £7 million share of BDUK funds.

The remaining £2million is coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The ERDF funding will be used to enable fibre connections for more than 2,600 small and medium-sized businesses in Northumberland.

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.”

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