Superfast broadband for rural Coquetdale

A plan by Northumberland County Council and BT to deliver superfast broadband in Rothbury has been so successful that a roll-out further up Coquetdale could be on the cards.

At a recent council meeting, Coun Steven Bridgett said: “The Rothbury scheme has one of the highest subscription rates in the North East.

“This is in terms of people signing up to superfast broadband and once you cross a certain threshold on each cabinet, it becomes commercially viable and BT have to return so many pence-in-the-pound to the local authority.

“We wouldn’t get to see the benefits of that until 2017.”

Coun Bridgett was told that the director of finance at Northumberland County Council has agreed that, based on a 50 per cent subscription rate, he will allow the council to borrow against that return.

“So we can use that return earlier and we can invest it in superfast broadband in other areas of Coquetdale, which is the plan,” Coun Bridgett added.

A spokesman for BT said: “The fibre-broadband rollout in Rothbury, the result of a partnership between BT, iNorthumberland and the UK Government, was one of the most challenging to date with more than 40km of fibre-cable put in place.

“Six new fibre street cabinets and 44 new poles were installed to make fibre broadband available to more than 1,500 homes and businesses in Rothbury and nearby Thropton, Snitter and Catington.

“It’s too early to start talking about how many people are signing up to fibre-broadband packages as that information is not publically available. However, what we do know is that the lives of people living and working in places like Rothbury are being transformed by this new technology.

“Fibre broadband has many advantages and they are even more apparent in rural areas. At home, music and films can be downloaded in a matter of minutes and catch-up TV is something that can be enjoyed by all the family. Local businesses can do much more in far less time, working as effectively from home as they would in the office.”

The spokesman added: “We look forward to hearing more about how people are using the new network.”