A partnership between local residents and Openreach, BT’s local network business, is to make high-speed broadband available to more than 500 households on a new housing development in Blyth.
Openreach will install new fibre optic cabling and fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology for Crofton Grange, boosting fibre broadband speeds from around 1Mbps to superfast speeds of up to 80 Mbps.
The entire cost of delivering the new technology has been covered by investment from Openreach and the UK Government’s Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme, which supports households and businesses not covered by any current fibre broadband rollout plans and only able to get speeds below 2Mbps.
The co-funded deal at Crofton Grange is expected to see the first residents get the higher broadband speeds before the end of the year. It is part of BT’s Community Fibre Partnerships programme, which has already seen BT sign agreements with more than 200 local communities and organisations to bring fibre broadband to some of the UK’s most challenging areas.
Crofton Grange resident Andy Green, who led the campaign for the upgrade, said: “Getting to this point has not been easy but we were determined to find a solution and get the broadband speeds we so desperately need. The iNorthumberland team pointed us towards the Community Fibre Partnerships programme after others avenues failed and we’re really pleased they did.
“Broadband speeds are more important now than ever before and this is going to make a massive difference to people living here. Once the work is complete, the technology will better support people who want to work from home, we will be able to stream many of the TV shows we’ve not been able to watch and won’t have to wait hours to download software updates. Everyone is counting down the days until the upgrade.”
As Crofton Grange is a relatively new development, it was not included in any commercial roll-out of fibre broadband by the private sector in the Blyth area. However, it was too early to be part of a new initiative, in which Openreach provides ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband to all new developments of at least 30 premises. The initiative doesn’t involve any cost to the developer provided the company registers the scheme with Openreach in the early stages of the development.
Simon Roberson, BT’s North East regional partnership director, said: “We are working with communities, such as Crofton Grange, up and down the region. Making fibre broadband available to communities is one of our top priorities and working directly with a group of residents like this is just one of the ways of doing so. People here have shown great determination to make this happen and fibre broadband opens up endless opportunities for those living here.
“More generally, the new initiative by Openreach to provide ultrafast broadband for all new developments of at least 30 premises offers a fantastic opportunity for developers to provide the very latest high-speed technology for their developments at no cost to themselves. However, we are still seeing instances where developers are not engaging with Openreach early enough, resulting in households only being able to get slow broadband when they move into brand new properties. I would strongly encourage developers to do the right thing for the people moving into new homes by ensuring they have future proof broadband technology in place ready and waiting for them.
“Our ambition is to ‘never say no’ to any community that wants superfast broadband, and we’re really pleased we found a way forward in Crofton Grange which testifies to that. We’re keen to have conversations with other communities who might benefit from this approach.”
Kim Mears, Openreach’s managing director for infrastructure delivery, said: “It is great to be able to work with communities like Crofton Grange, to find a fibre broadband solution. We’re working on hundreds of similar community fibre partnership programmes across the UK, which are bringing faster fibre internet access to even more homes and businesses. Openreach is committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible in the UK to allow families and businesses to do even more online.”
Openreach offers fibre broadband access to all service providers on an open, wholesale basis, which means that local households and businesses can benefit from competitive pricing and products from a wide range of providers.
To find out how to help bring superfast broadband to your community visit www.communityfibre.bt.com