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New multi million pound scheme to bring superfast broadband to more Northumberland communities

Wednesday 30th August, 2017

New multi million pound scheme to bring superfast broadband to more Northumberland communities

Up to 2,000 homes and businesses could benefit from funding to provide superfast broadband to more Northumberland communities.

Through the iNorthumberland programme, Northumberland County Council and BT have agreed a fund of £2.2 million to bring the high-speed technology to some of the most expensive and technically difficult to reach communities in the county.

The new iNorthumberland Community Broadband Fund works with a Community Fibre Partnership programme in which communities not currently in any fibre broadband plans can partner with Openreach to get superfast broadband in their area. These communities can now apply to use the new iNorthumberland fund, which can be matched by up to 50 per cent of additional private funding, on top of Openreach’s investment. If fully matched, the value of new broadband schemes could be more than £4 million. 

The fund will offer up to £2,000 matched funding per premise for a superfast broadband connection or up to £2,500 for ultrafast - with a maximum contribution available to a single community capped at £100,000.

Each community will need to have a nominated person or organisation to apply for inclusion in the scheme.  They will be responsible for getting a community fibre broadband quote from Openreach and also required to arrange payment of the community’s contribution to the scheme when the contract is agreed.

Cllr Nick Oliver, cabinet mSome of the first communities set to benefit include Nunnykirk, Stanton near Netherwitton, Bolam, Pauperhhaugh and Styford. ember for corporate services at Northumberland County Council, said: “We know that there is a high demand amongst households in these more hard to reach areas, and also that a number of businesses are struggling to sustain their current business models due to connectivity issues.

“Securing schemes through this funding will help to increase access to services and allow greater adoption of digital services for rural residents.  It will also help to grow the economy by both supporting existing businesses and encouraging new ones to become established in Northumberland.”

The iNorthumberland team has been working with BT, Openreach and local communities and groups across the county with a view to progressing with this scheme, and some communities are already gearing up to sign contracts.

Some of the first communities set to benefit include Nunnykirk, Stanton near Netherwitton, Bolam, Pauperhhaugh and Styford.

Steve Haines, managing director of next generation access for Openreach, said: “It is great to be able to work with Northumberland County Council and communities from across the County to find a fibre broadband solution. 

“Openreach is committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible for households and businesses. The technology really does have the ability to transform the way people interact online.”

Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, added: “This additional fund is quite literally going to help superfast broadband go that extra mile, reaching communities that would otherwise be unlikely to benefit from faster broadband speeds. This is fantastic news for Northumberland.”

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