02/02/2017

Pioneering communications technology has been used to bring faster broadband to two picturesque villages in Northumberland as part of the iNorthumberland broadband programme.

Around 140 households and businesses in Low and High Hauxley are now able to enjoy some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK following the switching on of the innovative ‘all-in- one’ fibre broadband cabinets. Usually, two cabinets are needed to bring fibre broadband to an area – the existing road-side cabinet that supplies telephone services and a new one for the fibre technology. By combining all the technology into the ‘onesie’ cabinet the amount of street furniture is reduced – ideal in certain areas of natural beauty, where there can be conservation considerations as well as technical issues.

Mike Reynolds, senior project manager in Openreach, BT’s local network business, said: “To ensure both High Hauxley and Low Hauxley residents can access the biggest possible boost in broadband speeds two ‘onesie’ cabinets have been installed. Without this technology four cabinets would have been required and in an area prone to flooding that would have been very difficult logistically.

“Thanks to information from a local resident, one of the ‘onesie’ cabinets has been stood on a raised plinth to keep it higher off the ground and safe from flood water. Unfortunately, moving the cabinet to another location was not an option so we went back to the drawing board and came up with a plan to help to protect the cabinet and maximise broadband speeds for the community.”

Cllr Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, welcomed the news. He said: “This is another great example of our iNorthumberland project bringing some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK to local communities across the county.  These onesie cabinets have the added benefit of reducing the amount of street furniture needed – so a win, win.”

The iNorthumberland team will be visiting Hauxley Village Hall on February 8 between 1pm and 2pm to explain why faster broadband is such good news and to answer any questions local people may have about the roll-out.

Mike added: “Rolling out fibre broadband on this scale is no mean feat. Sometimes we have to do things differently in order to overcome technical issues or challenging geographies. This was one of those times. When our primary roll-out technology proved unsuitable, we had to identify a different solution. The ‘onesie’ was the perfect solution and people are already embracing the new technology.”

More than 4,200 homes and businesses in the Amble area can now access fibre broadband, with further upgrades planned in the coming months.

Fibre broadband at home means everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in a few minutes; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. Fibre improves the quality of online experiences and supports new developments in internet services.

Benefits for businesses include faster file and data transfers, better access to cloud computing services and software, more sophisticated web-based contact with customers and support for more flexible working. More than 146,000 households and businesses in Northumberland are now able to connect to fibre broadband as a result of the iNorthumberland programme and BT’s commercial roll-out of the high-speed technology.

BT was awarded the iNorthumberland contract in April 2013, whilst the second phase contract was signed in June last year. It will see more than £4.1 million invested in the programme area in addition to the £18.9 million initially invested by Northumberland County Council, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund, BT and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Openreach’s network is open to all broadband service providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Northumberland households and businesses can benefit from highly competitive products and pricing from a range of providers.

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