The Broadband Upgrade Fund campaign has launched in the county, with the Government offering rural residents up to £1,500 and small to medium-sized businesses up to £3,500 to upgrade to gigabit broadband.
This is capable of download speeds of 1 gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second and is much faster than the current speeds experienced across Northumberland.
Residents and businesses can combine their interest to increase the overall fund to which the community is entitled.
Registration is open until the end of September, with people urged to check if they are eligible at https://broadband-upgrade-fund.campaign.gov.uk/register
Cllr Nick Oliver, Northumberland County Council’s cabinet member for corporate resources, said: “These grants are a great opportunity for our rural residents and businesses to gain faster and more reliable internet connections, especially at a time when working from home is so important.
“We want as many people to take advantage of this funding as possible, as it will prove to be a huge boost for many people’s livelihoods.”
As previously reported, via the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, up to £4million of additional Government funding will top up these vouchers and double the money available, meaning the maximums are now £7,000 for eligible businesses and £3,000 for eligible residential properties.
This will be in areas where available services have less than 30Mbps download speed. See https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk for details.
It comes as a survey of 339 adults living in Northumberland showed that 54% said the internet has played an important part in helping combat feelings of isolation or loneliness during lockdown.
During that period, 59% of broadband-using, working respondents in the county worked from home ‘all’ or ‘most of the time’, but more than a third (36%) were at times frustrated by an unreliable internet connection.
Four in ten (40%) of those asked claimed they would be able to do their job better if they had a faster internet connection.