Broadband boost for 65,000 Northumberland properties with upgrades in 21 towns and villages

Openreach has outlined plans to build ultrafast, full fibre broadband for more than 65,000 homes and businesses in Northumberland.

A total of 21 exchanges across the county are being upgraded.

Locations set to benefit are: Alnmouth, Amble, Ashington, Bellingham, Berwick, Corbridge, Cramlinton, Haltwhistle, Haydon Bridge, Hexham, Longframlington, Lynemouth, Otterburn, Ponteland, Red Row, Rothbury, Seahouses, Shilbottle, Stocksfield, Ulgham and Wylam

The company’s updated build plan will be fundamental to the UK Government achieving its target of delivering ‘gigabit capable broadband’ to 85 per cent of UK by 2025 and it follows an extended investment commitment by its parent, BT Group – which means Openreach will now build full fibre technology to a total of 25 million premises, including more than six million in the hardest-to-serve parts of the country.

An Openreach engineer in remote countryside.

The plans also include an extension to the company’s biggest ever recruitment drive, with a further 1,000 new roles being created in 2021 on top of the 2,500 jobs which were announced in December 2020 – of which around 50 were in the North East.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach’s regional director, said: “Building a new ultrafast broadband network across the North East is a massive challenge and some parts of the region will inevitably require public funding.

"But our expanded build plan means taxpayer subsidies can be limited to only the hardest to connect homes and businesses. And with investments from other network builders, we’d hope to see that shrink further.

“This is a hugely complex, nationwide engineering project. It will help level-up the UK because the impact of full fibre broadband stretches from increased economic prosperity and international competitiveness, to higher employment and environmental benefits.

Openreach engineers on the coast.

"We’re also delighted to continue bucking the national trend by creating more North East jobs, with apprentices joining in their droves to start their careers as engineers.

“We’ll publish further location details and timescales on our website as the detailed surveys and planning are completed and the build progresses.

"In the meantime, you can also check what’s already available which includes tens of thousands of homes and businesses across the North East that can already access full fibre.”

With download speeds of 1 Gbps, it’s up to 10 times faster than the average home broadband connection. That means faster game downloads, better quality video calls and higher resolution movie streaming.

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