22/06/2017

A Northumberland village is the first community in the North East to benefit from a major initiative to bring superfast fibre broadband to some of the UK’s most challenging areas.

People living and working in Eshott initially approached iNorthumberland for help and were put in touch with BT’s Community Fibre Partnership programme, which is delivering fibre broadband to nearly 300 communities and organisations across the country.

After discussions and a period of surveying and planning, an agreement was reached for Openreach – the local network business which is part of BT Group – to build new fibre optic cabling and Fibre-to- the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology to the village. The upgrade gives more than 40 homes and businesses in the village access to broadband speeds up to 50 times faster than previously available.

The cost of delivering the new technology was jointly funded by Openreach and the residents themselves.

Eshott resident, Andy Godward, who led the campaign for the upgrade, said: “It’s such a relief to finally connect to superfast broadband. Even after signing the contract we knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get the technology to the village. At times it has been challenging, but thanks to the commitment of all involved the new network is now up and running and making a huge difference to our lives. Eshott has a number of homerun businesses and homeworkers in the community and for them this upgrade is invaluable. Everything they currently do online can be done faster and more efficiently. It makes so much more possible than before and benefits every single person in our community.

“Residents no longer have to commute to the nearby town to access the internet, this includes children in the midst of exams whose study material is now online. Basic services that others take for granted were almost impossible to access, such as streaming movies or internet banking. The difference a high-speed connection has made is truly staggering.”

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, visited Eshott to see for himself the difference the new technology is making to the community. He said: “We are working directly with communities, such as Eshott, up and down the region, but this is the first North East community to ‘go live’ under our Community Fibre Partnership programme. Making fibre broadband available in the small proportion of the country yet to get an upgrade is a major priority for Openreach, and working directly with communities like Eshott is just one of the ways we can make that happen. The residents here have shown great determination to press ahead with this exciting project and Northumberland County Council and the iNorthumberland team have been hugely supportive in bringing this about.

“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 Eshott which testifies to that. We’re keen to have conversations with other communities in the region, and across Britain, who might benefit from this approach.”

Cllr Glen Sanderson, County Councillor for the Longhorsley Ward, said:  “I have been very pleased to support this project since it was first mooted.  It is a great example of the local community working together with a broadband delivery company, supported by the iNorthumberland programme team.  The iNorthumberland programme is having great success in bringing superfast broadband to homes and businesses right across Northumberland.  In some communities, such as here at Eshott, a particularly creative solution is needed – and through the hard work of local people, and BT’s Community Fibre Partnership programme we can see a very successful outcome.”

The Openreach network is available 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.

According to independent data from thinkbroadband.com more than 90 per cent of homes and businesses in Northumberland have access to superfast broadband from one or more provider. This reflects the national outlook where more than nine out of ten UK homes can now order superfast broadband, and, on average, Openreach is giving access to another home every 30 seconds.

The rollout of superfast broadband in the UK has been one of the quickest and most ambitious anywhere in the world. And more homes in the UK are now using superfast broadband than in Germany, France, Italy or Spain.

To find out how to help bring superfast broadband to your community visit www.communityfibre.bt.com

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