Commsworld awarded 20-year contract worth £22m to transform digital infrastructure in Northumberland

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Network provider Commsworld has been awarded a 20-year contract worth £22m by Northumberland County Council.

The contract will see £114m of private investment into the region to transform and support the county’s digital infrastructure over the next two decades.

It involves replacing its ageing Wide Area Network (WAN) with full-fibre infrastructure which will also provide businesses and communities with access to faster, high-quality, reliable connectivity.

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Commsworld will be facilitating the service over a 20-year period, but by 2026 the planned installation of a 262km cable will transform connectivity to nearly 150 council sites.

Cllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council.Cllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council.
Cllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council.

It will also enable access to more than 120,000 residential and business properties to Fibre To The Premises (FTTP), many of which have never enjoyed access to gigabit-capable fibre networks before.

The fibre infrastructure will be linked to Commsworld’s Optical Core Network (OCN) which will act as the ‘spine’ from which wholesale fibre broadband providers can branch out into towns and rural areas of Northumberland at reduced rates so communities can enjoy significantly improved digital connectivity of up to one gigabit per second for gigabit-capable fibre broadband.

Commsworld will also utilise the infrastructure established by the recent Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) project funded by the Government through its Project Gigabit, which will result in a significant uplift in internet connectivity for 110 schools. These schools, and others where possible, will be migrated to the new WAN.

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The contract will also see Commsworld work in partnership with iNorthumberland, Community Action Northumberland and the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) to tackle digital poverty.

Cllr Glen Sanderson, council leader, said: “This long-term approach marks a new and historic way forward for the council and its positive impact cannot be underestimated.

"We are one of the first rural counties in England to focus on changing the lives of our communities by not only providing the infrastructure to give them ground-breaking access to full-fibre broadband, but future-proofing the system so it can adapt and grow according to the needs of everyone who lives and works in Northumberland.

“Above all, it will directly tackle digital exclusion, especially for those in our rural areas. Equality of access is vital if we want to improve the lives of all our citizens.”

Commsworld partners include local fibre providers such as Alncom.