Another 3,000 premises to get superfast fibre

A broadband box.
A broadband box.

The county council has signed a deal with BT to provide
superfast fibre broadband to a further 3,000 premises in Northumberland by 2017.

In what is known as phase two of the iNorthumberland project, a further £4million of funding has been secured, half from central government and half from the county council.

Communities set to receive the upgrade include Carham, Middleton, Lucker, Scremerston, Rennington and Whitton and Tosson in the north of the county as well as Cresswell, Hauxley and Widdrington further south.

This will be complete by the end of 2017 although it is expected that most areas will be upgraded next year.

However, once phase two has been delivered, there will still be around 10,000 to 10,500 premises with broadband speeds of 15 Mbps or below.

Northumberland County Council has identified a further £5.1million to try to extend fibre coverage to 95 per cent of premises by the end of 2017 in line with Government targets.

This consists of £1million from central government, £1million from the county council, £1.2million allocated for phase one, but now not being used and £1.9million initial clawback funds released by BT for exceeding 20 per cent take-up of superfast broadband services.

Other technologies like satellite broadaband are already available in the county, while iNorthumberland also expects the Government to announce details of a third phase in due course.

It is not yet known what technology or funding model this will use, but a number of pilots are under way.

In terms of the roll-out so far, BT’s commercially-funded fibre roll-out mainly took place between 2012 and 2014 – 250 cabinets have been upgraded, but 12 are still yet to be completed, including four in Alnwick and three in Berwick.

Through the iNorthumberland project’s first phase, for those areas that weren’t thought to be commercially viable, 237 structures (cabinets or fibre to the premise schemes) have been completed, including six in the Rothbury area funded via a separate contract.

This leaves 34 still to be completed – mainly fibre to the premise schemes; the Government’s target was for 90 per cent of premises to have access to superfast broadband by end of 2015.

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