iNorthumberland is holding a series of community events to encourage people living and working across Northumberland to take full advantage of the new high-speed fibre broadband technology.
More than 140,000 households and businesses in the county are now able to connect to fibre broadband and the iNorthumberland team is keen to meet with local communities to explain the benefits of upgrading and to answer questions about the roll-out.
Following successful events in Allendale and Humshaugh, the team will be at Kirkwhelpington Memorial Hall on Wednesday November 4 between 10am and 11.30am. This will be followed by events in Embleton, Crookham, Milfield and Widdrington later in the month. The fibre roll-out is continuing at pace with parts of Kirkwhelpington, Scots Gap, Middleton, Hartburn, Kirkharle, Longwitton, Netherwitton just some of the communities recently upgraded.
Cllr Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “The iNorthumberland partnership is doing a fantastic job of bringing faster broadband to hundreds of premises in Northumberland every month. “We would encourage anyone wanting to know more about fibre broadband and its benefits to pop along to their nearest event and meet the team who will be on hand at to help answer any questions.”
One local business that has already placed an order for fibre is the Kirkharle Coffee House. It is one of a number of businesses in the Kirkharle Courtyard, in Kirkharle – birthplace of famous 18th century landscape architect Capability Brown, who also lived and worked on the estate.
Owner Kitty Anderson, said: “Having fibre will help us enormously. We offer wi-fi which is very popular with our customers and this will make it easier for people to get online without the connection dropping or slowing down. Once we have fibre we hope to be able to extend the reach of our wi-fi to create a digital ‘treasure trail’ where visitors can use their mobiles to scan special bar codes fixed at points of interest around the grounds and download information about them. We’ve recently created a new website and having fibre will help hugely when we want to upload new content and keep it up to date.
“Next year is Capability Brown’s tercentenary so we’re expecting a lot of extra visitors. Having fibre will definitely help us cope with the extra traffic. “I know other businesses in the Courtyard are keen to get fibre too. A number of them are artists, for example, who rely on a good broadband connection to upload large picture files to showcase their work on their websites.”
Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, said: “Getting fibre to rural locations is no easy task, but it’s a very important one. It is equally important for people to understand how they can benefit and take the opportunity to upgrade when the new technology arrives in their community.
“Superfast broadband is not just of value to businesses it also offers many benefits for families such as 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 also improves access to online learning and job opportunities and makes 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 iNorthumberland contract in April 2013 following a procurement exercise through the 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, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund, BT and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
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.