More than 3,000 extra homes and businesses able to benefit from fibre broadband in the second phase of the roll-out

iNorthumberland has today announced that a further 3,000 homes and businesses will get access to fibre broadband as a result of the second phase of its fibre broadband roll-out.

This second phase contract will see more than £4.1 million invested in the programme area in addition to the £18.9 million initially invested.

Locations expected to be included in the second phase of the roll out include Matfen, Hebron, Longhirst, Scremerston, Doddington, Newtown and Tosson.   A period of detailed surveying and planning of all potential locations for this second phase will begin in the coming weeks following which more detailed information will be made available.

Councillor Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “This announcement of phase two of our ambitious broadband programme is great news for more communities and businesses in Northumberland.  Access to superfast broadband is becoming fundamental to our everyday lives and it is only right that our residents expect to be able to access faster broadband speeds no matter where they live.

“Working with BT we have been able to find effective solutions to some of the more difficult to reach areas, and we are still working hard to find innovative solutions and improve broadband speeds for those homes and businesses where fibre broadband is not available. We will be approaching those communities in the coming months to talk in more detail about how we can improve speeds for those living and working in areas not currently within the roll-out plans.”

The high-speed network installed by BT’s local network business, Openreach, is available on an open, wholesale basis to all companies offering broadband services so households and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market.

The technology can boost the competitiveness of local firms and offer new ways of flexible working, entertainment and learning opportunities for local residents.

Already thousands of homes and businesses across the iNorthumberland programme area have ordered fibre broadband and are now enjoying faster broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps

One business already benefitting from the upgrade is STUK Sound and Jigsaw Event Management. Businesswoman Mel Jackson, who runs the company with her partner Stu Keeble, provides PA systems and recording and editing facilities for bands and events and is already reaping the benefits after just a few weeks of getting superfast speeds.

Mel, who lives and works in the village of Cambois, said: “Before our broadband was so slow sending things by carrier pigeon would have been quicker. The impact of high speed broadband has been outstanding.

“Part of what we do involves recording and editing footage of live bands which involves uploading and sending lots of big data files. Before, the internet connection was slow that we couldn’t send files to clients to view – we had to send them a DVD or they would have to come and visit us here in Cambois. Now everything can be done online which is miles better for us and our customers.

“Fibre broadband enables us to provide a much better service to our clients many of whom could not understand why we had such an outdated service up until three weeks ago.”

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.

In order to take advantage of the higher speeds now available, residents and business should contact their broadband service provider.

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said: “This second phase will help us to reach some of the even more remote and rural parts of the county. We are committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible. The issue of broadband access touches all aspects of rural life. Lack of quality broadband affects the ability and agility of rural economies to grow and be resilient and the services and quality of life in rural areas. This is particularly relevant to Northumberland with a population of around 312,000 and no single community larger than 35,000 residents.”

The second phase of the iNorthumberland programme is expected to begin in January 2016. 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.

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