Broadband boost for homes and businesses

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Superfast broadband is here for some residents of north Northumberland after BT this week announced that the technology has arrived in Alnwick.

Hundreds of homes and businesses now have access to high-speed broadband – and this figure will increase to more than 4,000 as engineers complete the local upgrade in the weeks ahead.

The BT investment was welcomed by Coun Allan Hepple, policy board member for planning, housing and regeneration at Northumberland County Council, who described it as great news.

“Superfast fibre broadband in Alnwick will benefit both local residents and businesses,” he said.

“Broadband is an essential part of our present and future. It’s vital that we embrace this latest generation of technology in order for our local economy to remain competitive.

“Better, faster communications boost businesses, helping them grow and create more jobs.

“What’s more, local residents can enjoy faster browsing and downloading at home.”

More Northumberland communities, including Amble and Berwick, are also due to be upgraded and by the end of spring 2014, more than 98,000 homes and businesses across the region will able to benefit as a result of BT’s £2.5billion fibre roll-out programme.

BT is also working in partnership with Northumberland County Council to reach parts of Northumberland that lie outside its commercial footprint.

In April this year, BT signed a £18.9million deal to transform broadband speeds for businesses and residents across the county.

The telecoms giant was awarded the contract following a procurement exercise through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework.

The company is contributing £2.9million towards fibre deployment in ‘non-commercial’ areas with Northumberland County Council investing £7million plus its £7million share of BDUK. The remaining £2million is coming from the European Regional Development Fund.

The county council’s iNorthumberland project, which the Gazette has long supported, will see 95 per cent of homes and businesses in the county gain access to fibre-broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps.

lFor those that don’t yet have access to superfast broadband, the Gazette is running a competition, in conjunction with provider Avonline, for readers to win a satellite-broadband system free for a year.

It is still open for entries from individuals, commercial premises and community groups/venues. The entry form and detailed instructions will be reprinted next week.