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Digital Durham fibre rollout reaches 100,000 homes

Monday, April 4th 2016 by Ellen Branagh

The government-backed superfast rollout in Durham has announced a ‘major milestone’ as more than 100,000 premises can now access to fibre broadband.

Digital Durham said the village of St John’s Chapel in Weardale has become the latest community to ‘go live’ as part of the programme.

The 100,000th premises was one of more than 200 homes in St John’s Chapel to get access to fibre, which is thanks to thousands of underground fibre-optic cables and more than 400 fibre street cabinets across the area.

Parts of Barnard Castle, Eggleston, Gateshead and Thornaby have also been upgraded in recent weeks.

So has Middleton-in-Teesdale, which has also recently received improved mobile signal due to Vodafone’s Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) scheme.

The milestone was welcomed by Pat Glass, MP for North West Durham, who said: “I am delighted that the Digital Durham programme has reached its 100,000 premises milestone.

“I continue to fully support their programme as they make progress towards giving as many constituents of mine as possible access to fast broadband.”

Janice Stobbs, headteacher at St John’s Chapel Primary School, said: "Use of the internet now touches every part of the curriculum, with pupils using it every day for everything from interactive exercises to doing online research for school projects and a variety of other schoolwork.

"Without fast connectivity and speeds there is the risk that children will miss out on what is now an essential learning tool, so having fibre in St John’s Chapel is great news."

Thousands of orders for the newly available superfast service have already been placed since the beginning of this year and demand continues to grow as more and more local people opt for the fibre optic technology.

'True measure of success'

Cllr Jane Brown, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for corporate services, said: "It is really pleasing to see the programme making this positive progress and that hundreds of homes and businesses are signing up to use this exciting technology every month.

"The fact that we have brought fibre-based broadband to communities as far afield as Ryton in the north, Darlington in the south, Westgate in the west and Saltburn-by-the-Sea in the east of the programme area helps demonstrate the scale and breadth of the rollout."

Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, said: "To have reached 100,000 homes and businesses in just over two years is a huge achievement and one that the Digital Durham team should be proud of.

"The true measure of success, however, will be the benefits that communities across the programme reap from using this technology so it’s encouraging to see the vast number of local residents and businesses taking advantage of what is now on offer to them.

"Access to this technology can play a major role in building the competitiveness of local businesses and offer new education, social and entertainment opportunities for residents. And with plenty of choice of suppliers and pricing, I would urge even more local people to take advantage and get connected."

The Digital Durham programme, delivered by Durham County Council and BT, aims to take fibre-based broadband to 97% of homes and businesses.

Image courtesy of Andrew Curtis

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