Log on to bid for fast broadband

COUNTY bosses are determined to bring high-speed broadband to north Northumberland, but they need feedback from residents and businesses.

Backed by over £7million of Government money, the programme will focus on ensuring that everyone has access to a standard service of 2mbps, with 90 per cent of the population able to access superfast speeds – currently defined as 25mbps – by 2015.

Steve Stewart, chief executive of Northumberland County Council, said: “Bringing superfast broadband to Northumberland is a high priority for this council.

“In August, we received news that we had been given an indicative allocation of £7.03million to upgrade our broadband infrastructure. The release of this money is dependent on the council providing match funding and submitting a detailed Local Broadband Plan for Government approval.

“Our plan must clearly illustrate how we will focus resources on upgrading our networks, alongside evidence from across the community that the people of Northumberland want this service.

“This is why we are launching the iNorthumberland campaign, giving businesses and residents the opportunity to voice how essential it is that we secure faster and more reliable internet connections for Northumberland.”

People from across the county are being invited to visit www.inorthumberland.org.uk to tell the project team why they want faster and more reliable internet connections.

For those who currently struggle to access the web, residents will be able to visit local libraries and complete a short card to register their views.

Steve said: “The Government is quite clear that authorities must represent the wishes and aspirations of local communities through their local broadband plans.

“The simple fact is that if Northumberland is to secure the faster connections so many of us are desperate for, we need to provide evidence of that demand to Government.

“Superfast broadband will have a transformational effect on all aspects of life in our county.

“Our project envisages benefits to healthcare provision, the delivery of education and more efficient and connected ways the public sector might work together.

“Improved broadband is also a major factor in our economic plans for the county – enabling more people to start their own businesses while established companies can scale up to serve a global market.

“The possibilities are endless which is why this project is so vital and offers an exciting future for Northumberland.”

Northumberland’s Local Broadband Plan will be submitted to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport by the end of this year.