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Digital Durham takes fibre broadband to thousands more Teesdale homes

Monday, July 6th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

More than 2,000 homes and businesses in Teesdale now have access to superfast broadband as part of the latest rollout from the Digital Durham programme.

Parts of Cockfield, Copley, Cotherstone and Staindrop are now be able to access high-speed fibre broadband network, with parts of Barningham, Bowes, Gainford and Middleton-in-Teesdale due to upgraded by the end of June 2016.

A total of 3,500 premises in Teesdale are due to get access to the technology as part of the first phase of the Digital Durham programme, which also includes parts of Romaldkirk, Eggleston, Ingleton, Stainton, Woodland, Winston and Mickleton.

This is in addition to around 2,500 homes and businesses in Barnard Castle that can already access faster speeds as part of BT’s commercial fibre rollout.

The second phase of the Digital Durham programme is expected to start in 2017, and by the end of the rollout 97% of premises will have access to fibre broadband.

Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland, said: “Broadband is an essential part of modern life – it is used for everything from homework to shopping to farming.

“Reaching more people with superfast broadband is important to grow local businesses and keep people in touch.

“I’m delighted by the announcement and will work with Digital Durham to get even more people connected.”

'Mammoth undertaking'

A series of events are being held to give people a chance to ask questions about the rollout, including one this Friday (10 July) in Cockfield, and one the following Friday (17 July) in Evenwood.

Councillor Jane Brown, cabinet member for corporate services at Durham County Council, said: “This is an exciting and important development for Teesdale as residents and businesses throughout the Dales will be able to take advantage of the many opportunities provided by superfast broadband.

“It also demonstrates our commitment to making sure those in rural areas are able to benefit from the programme.”

More than 60,000 homes and businesses can now access fibre across the Digital Durham programme.

Speaking at a previous community event Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, said: “The Digital Durham project is a mammoth undertaking with over 100 planners and engineers working on upgrading the network – rolling out more than 500km of fibre optic cable, enough to stretch over seven times the length of the A1 in the project area.

“Teesdale’s rural landscape means rolling out fibre can be a real challenge, with some areas trickier than others, for example, smaller communities which are often based further away from the nearest telephone exchange.”

He said the second phase of the programme would see engineers face fresh challenges as they try to take fibre to some of the “smallest and remotest” communities.

The Digital Durham programme, which is delivered by Durham County Council and BT, has seen a total of £34m invested by the two organisations, as well as Gateshead Council, government funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), and public sector partners in Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and the Tees Valley.

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