Boost for internet speeds in Northumberland

Northumberland County Council has welcomed a £7.8million grant to boost digital connectivity in rural communities.

Monday, 21st December 2020, 8:00 am
Coun Nick Oliver.

The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) made a bid to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport earlier this year for the investment from its Local Full Fibre Networks Programme.

The funding will pay for the rollout of gigabit fibre internet connections to public buildings across Northumberland, improving the speed and reliability of digital connectivity to these sites.

And some council buildings are already reaping the benefits. Five rural schools in Northumberland have already gained connection to full-fibre internet, that boasts download speeds of up to 1000 Mb/s.

Coun Nick Oliver, cabinet member for corporate resources, said: “This is an exciting upgrade to our infrastructure in the county, providing rural Northumberland with better connectivity than many city centres.

“Work carried out will bring high-speed, affordable and reliable connectivity to our businesses and residents, which is crucial in maintaining our economic competitiveness and achieving social inclusion, now more than ever.”

Following agreement by the Council’s cabinet, the Council will put forward a further £932,110 of funding towards the two-year programme, and have signed a contract with BT to deliver the scheme in Northumberland.

Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Fast, reliable internet has never been more important in our schools.

"It’s fantastic that we have been able to get five of our rural schools connected so quickly.

"We’re aiming to have a total of 18 schools connected to full-fibre network by early 2022.”

BT’s Enterprise business will be deploying the full fibre network across Northumberland via its infrastructure partner, Openreach.

On a national level, Openreach recently expanded its full-fibre ambitions and will bring ultrafast broadband to within reach of 4.5 million homes and businesses across the UK by the end of March next year.

The funding will deliver gigabit capable full fibre connectivity to more than 270 public sector sites via the Northumberland Gigabit Project, including schools, libraries and Northumbria Care Trust buildings.

The project, which has been approved by the Council’s cabinet members, aims to be complete by end of March 2022.