Openreach reveals next tranche of Northumberland communities in line for better broadband

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Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has met with Openreach’s chief engineers to witness the innovative engineering techniques being used to deliver ultrafast, full fibre broadband.

She was given a tour of the work and an update on the build, which has already reached more than 28,000 homes and businesses across Northumberland.

Locations such as Alnmouth, Alnwick, Bamburgh, Berwick, Lesbury, Longhoughton, Rothbury and Scots Gap are already benefiting from the new technology, with work continuing to reach even more homes and businesses.

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Openreach has also announced that Amble, Longframlington, Lynemouth, Otterburn, Seahouses, Shilbottle and Ulgham have been added to their commercial build plans whilst Holy Island is also going to be upgraded.

Catherine Colloms and Anne-Marie Trevelyan with Openreach engineers Sam Ward and Kelsey Adams.Catherine Colloms and Anne-Marie Trevelyan with Openreach engineers Sam Ward and Kelsey Adams.
Catherine Colloms and Anne-Marie Trevelyan with Openreach engineers Sam Ward and Kelsey Adams.

Ms Trevelyan said: “I am delighted to see for myself the huge progress being made by Openreach to deliver full fibre to our rural communities.

"I have been campaigning for years for Northumberland to be able to reap the full benefits of these amazing technologies, and the importance of ensuring our harder-to-reach communities are connected, not just those areas that are easier and cheaper to reach.”

Her visit to Alnwick was hosted by Catherine Colloms, Openreach’s managing director of corporate affairs and chair of their North of England Board.

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She said: “We welcomed the opportunity to give a step-by-step demonstration of our technology, as well as an update on the build.

"Our local teams work hard every day to keep communities across Northumberland and the wider region connected, and it was great to be able to share the challenges and realities of delivering this life changing infrastructure.

“We also stressed our ongoing commitment to building a more diverse workforce, both UK-wide and here in the North East. We’re investing for the future so that we have the local, skilled and experienced workforce we need to support our investments across the North East and this year alone we’ll create 140 new jobs here, including around 70 apprenticeships.”

Openreach has also committed to represent ONS measured levels of ethnic diversity across the UK.

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Ms Colloms added: “We already employ one of the UK’s largest team of telecoms engineers and professionals, but we’re absolutely committed to building a more diverse and inclusive team in an industry that’s traditionally been very white, male dominated."

Mike Poole, chief engineer ops director for the north, revealed that communities across Northumberland are likely to notice an increase in Openreach activity.

He said: "Our teams work hard to make sure that we keep any disruption to local communities to a minimum by reusing our existing network where possible, but it’s not always straightforward.

"Occasionally we do need to put up new telegraph poles or use traffic lights to enable engineers to work safely in the road, but full fibre will bring multiple benefits to people living and working across the county as well as welcome boost to the local economy.”

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The delivery programme is being carried out through Openreach’s own commercial investment and the iNorthumberland broadband partnership with Northumberland County Council.

The Government aims to deliver ‘gigabit capable’ broadband to 85 per cent of the UK by 2025.