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Northumberland's fibre broadband rollout shifts focus to rural areas

Tuesday, June 28th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The first phase of Northumberland’s superfast broadband rollout has been completed.

iNorthumberland has taken fibre access to more than 52,500 homes and businesses that were not part of commercial rollout plans.

It will now focus bringing superfast connectivity to some of the most remote parts of the county.

Survey and planning work for the second phase of the programme is already underway and the first premises should be connected later in the summer.

An investment of £4.1m will help engineers reach a further 3,700 homes and businesses by June 2017.

Cllr Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “The council is playing a pivotal role in bringing superfast broadband to homes and businesses across Northumberland, and has been pleased to make such a significant investment in this important service.

“The rollout programme has not been without its challenges and, with the first phase now complete, we will now be tackling some of the most difficult to reach, rural locations in the county.

“I am looking forward to seeing more communities benefiting during this next phase and even that is most certainly not the end of the story.”

Areas that can look forward to the arrival of fibre broadband in the next year include Matfen, Gunnerton, Longhirst, Hebron, Burgham Park, Tranwell Woods, Carrshield, Meldon Park, High Buston, Bebside, Bomarsund, Great Tosson, Belford, Scremerston, and Prestwick Park Business Centre.

Some rural communities, including Newton-on-the-Moor, Duddo, Fenwick, Lowick, Elsdon, Ancroft and Acklington Village have already been upgraded.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, said: “It’s great news that fibre broadband is reaching some of our most remote and rural communities and I look forward to seeing even more progress during the second phase of the programme.

'Final push'

“There is still a lot more to do, and I hope the new Digital Economy Bill, which will bring in a ‘universal service obligation’ for broadband, will provide that final push for proper connectivity across Northumberland.”

Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, said: “Bringing fibre broadband to rural parts of Northumberland has not been easy and reaching some extremely remote parts of Northumberland is a great achievement.

"[It] is testament to the dedication of around 100 Openreach planners and engineers who have been keeping busy, clocking up thousands of man hours to plan and carry out this mammoth feat of civil engineering.

“However, there is still more to do and, as well as continuing the rollout, we are also looking at ways to make existing fibre services go faster and reach further. “We want to keep that momentum going so communities the length and breadth of the county get the maximum possible benefit.”

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