The village of Matfen has become one of the first locations in West Northumberland to be upgraded to superfast broadband as part of the second phase of the multi million pound iNorthumberland broadband programme.

More than 100 households and businesses in the West Northumberland community, set just a few miles north of Hadrian’s Wall, now have access to the high-speed technology. They will be joined in the coming months by a further 3,700 homes and businesses across Northumberland. This second phase will see more than £4.1 million invested in the programme area in addition to the £18.9 million invested in the first phase.

Engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, have been hard at work and in the coming months people living and working in locations such as Melkridge, Colwell, Langley, Warden, Oakwood, Dilston and Whitley Chapel will be able to order fibre broadband from their chosen broadband service provider. More detailed information on the roll-out can be found at www.inorthumberland.org.uk.

Councillor Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “It’s great to see the second phase of this ambitious and high performing programme well underway. “How fantastic to celebrate the delivery of high speed broadband to small settlements like Matfen – ensuring that residents, businesses and community organisations there can reap the same communications benefits as large towns.

“In celebrating the delivery of superfast broadband to Matfen, we must also thank local county councillor Veronica Jones. Veronica has worked tirelessly to help to make a case for this high level of service and reaching this stage is in no small part down to her.

Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, said: “It is excellent to see yet another location connected up to better broadband. Faster speeds are vital for the success of the local economy, and steadily through the Government’s SuperFast Britain programme we are connecting even more homes, and businesses. We still have a way to go, but the direction of travel is clear, and immensely encouraging.”

Already, around 36 per cent of households and businesses across the iNorthumberland programme area have ordered fibre broadband and are getting the benefits of faster broadband speeds. Nearly 2,000 have access to fibre-to- the-premises (FTTP) technology, which brings ultrafast speeds of up to one gigabit per second (Gbps). 1

Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, said: “From children doing their homework to caring for our elderly population and from social media to e-commerce and home entertainment – fast broadband is the critical enabler.

“Fibre is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for business. It is a need to have. To compete effectively in this world of technology, you need to be able to move, act and do business quickly and effectively. Faster broadband breaks down the barriers to doing business in the digital world on activities like online trading, which helps to empower our small businesses.

“I would encourage those who can already access fibre-based broadband to contact their service provider to arrange an upgrade. Because the Openreach network is ‘open’, there is a wide choice of fibre broadband providers.”

The investment in fibre-based broadband will boost the local economy and help to create or protect local jobs. It will help businesses find new customers and become more competitive and efficient, whilst for households the high-speed technology will offer new educational, training and leisure opportunities.

At home the faster speeds 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.

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