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‘Ambitious’ Northumberland broadband rollout to reach another 3,000 homes

Friday, June 5th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

More than 3,000 extra homes and businesses in Northumberland will benefit from fibre broadband thanks to the next phase of its superfast rollout.

The second phase of the iNorthumberland contract will see more than £4.1m invested in the programme area, on top of the £18.9m initially invested.

The second phase of the fibre rollout is expected to include Matfen, Hebron, Longhirst, Scremerston, Doddington, Newtown and Tosson.

Detailed surveys and plans for all potential locations are set to start in the next few weeks, and more detailed information will be made available.

Councillor Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said the announcement of the second phase of the “ambitious” programme was “great news” for communities and businesses in the county.

“Access to superfast broadband is becoming fundamental to our everyday lives and it is only right that our residents expect to be able to access faster broadband speeds no matter where they live,” he said.

“Working with BT we have been able to find effective solutions to some of the more difficult to reach areas, and we are still working hard to find innovative solutions and improve broadband speeds for those homes and businesses where fibre broadband is not available.”

He said they would be approaching those communities in the coming months to talk in more detail about how they could improve speeds for those not currently within the rollout plans.

'Quality of life'

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said the second phase would help reach even more remote and rural parts of the county.

“The issue of broadband access touches all aspects of rural life,” he said.

“Lack of quality broadband affects the ability and agility of rural economies to grow and be resilient and the services and quality of life in rural areas.

“This is particularly relevant to Northumberland with a population of around 312,000 and no single community larger than 35,000 residents.”

Thousands of homes and businesses have already ordered fibre broadband through the iNorthumberland programme and are enjoying speeds of up to 80Mbps.

They include STUK Sound and Jigsaw Event Management, which provides PA systems and recording and editing facilities for bands and events.

Mel Jackson, who runs the company with her partner Stu Keeble, and lives and works in the village of Cambois, said: “Before, our broadband was so slow sending things by carrier pigeon would have been quicker. The impact of high speed broadband has been outstanding.”

She said slow internet had made sending footage of live bands as big data files near impossible but now they can offer a better service.

The second phase of the iNorthumberland programme is expected to begin in January 2016.

More than 149,000 premises in the area will have access to fibre by the end of the two planned phases of the rollout.

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