iNorthumberland brings superfast surfing speeds to Lindisfarne
Superfast fibre broadband has arrived at one of the UK’s most historic and famous locations, thanks to iNorthumberland.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland – home to a wealth of history dating back to 635 AD – has now truly arrived in the 21st Century.
As well as battling the North Sea, which covers the causeway access at high tide, as Islanders have done for centuries, a team of 11 engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, had to tackle more modern day challenges. They included the need to keep the busy A1 road flowing, traffic management and the clearing of more than 90 underground duct blockages, to lay around 14 kilometres of optical fibres from Berwick to the island.
A new street cabinet has also been installed on the tidal island to enable connection to the new fibre technology. Previously, telephone lines on Holy Island were not served by a street cabinet, but ran straight from the island’s phone exchange to homes and businesses.
Councillor Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council said: “Living on an island like Lindisfarne can present its challenges – not least of which is the need for suitable communications links. Tourism businesses have to be able to compete on a level playing field and residents too wish to receive the same level of service as their neighbours on the mainland.
“I am delighted that through the iNorthumberland programme we have been able to provide superfast broadband to this community.”
More than 145 homes and businesses can now place orders as a result of iNorthumberland roll-out of the technology – and the first customers are already now using the high-speed service.
Sean Atkinson, who runs the Lindisfarne Hotel on the island with partner Jacqueline,
has just been connected to superfast broadband. He said: “It has made a massive difference. We’ve gone from a speed of half a megabit per second to about 37.
“We provide free wi-fi throughout the hotel because these days people expect to be able to stay connected, however far away they are from everything. Before, the wi-fi hardly worked at all. In one particular guest room, people had to sit on the end of the bed near the door to get a connection. If too many guests were using it at the same time, it meant there wasn’t enough bandwidth for me to get online and deal with the hotel’s admin and correspondence. I’d end up having to switch off the wi-fi just so I’d have enough bandwidth to send an email! Now everything is champion. Returning guests have already commented on how much better the broadband is.”
The benefits of faster broadband speeds are considerable for businesses with many of those situated on Holy Island serving the more than 650,000 visitors, who flock to the island every year. Businesses can now access booking systems, update websites and utilise social networking sites faster and more effectively, saving both time and money.
The increased speeds will also be of great value to families living on Holy Island especially when the tide is in. 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. It will also improve access to new job opportunities, and make it easier to shop around for cheaper services.
The iNorthumberland broadband programme, a key part of the council’s growth investment, is being delivered by Northumberland County Council and BT. BT was awarded the contract in April 2013 following a procurement exercise through the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework. A second phase contract was signed in June which 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, BDUK, BT and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
By the end of roll-out plans for the two phases more than 149,000 premises within the programme area will have access to fibre broadband.
Simon Roberson, BT’s North East regional partnership director, said: “Holy Island is a popular tourist destination for visitors to the area so plays an important role in supporting the local economy. Having a superfast connection will provide a massive boost to those businesses by enabling them to better exploit the new digital market place. For example, it allows them to provide a more streamlined experience for visitors and guests with services
like wi-fi, cashless transactions and automated check-in or attracting new customers with an increased web presence and other powerful online marketing tools.”
The majority of premises in Northumberland will be getting access to some of the best broadband speeds in the UK via iNorthumberland and the commercial roll-out of fibre by BT’s local network business, Openreach. 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.