People living in the rural communities of Fontburn, Rothley and Nunnykirk in Northumberland can benefit from improved broadband speeds, wireless connectivity and a more reliable service after Northumbrian Water, Northumberland County Council and local residents joined forces with local company Alncom to provide a brand new service to the area.

Historically, internet speeds in the areas around Fontburn have been painfully slow, leading to much frustration and lots of problems for local people and businesses. Northumbrian Water’s Fontburn treatment works and fishing lodge sites were two such premises affected by the slow speed connections and a satellite line had previously been used to help boost coverage. This solution wasn’t suitable, sustainable or reliable and so the water company, the county council and the local community all teamed up and began looking for ways to help improve internet coverage and speed.

While most of the options they found were way too expensive and unrealistic, a number of companies were identified who could provide superfast broadband to the area. Alncom, an Alnwick based internet service Provider Company who have delivered similar initiatives to other rural areas in the North East, were eventually selected to do the work.

The project is delivered in four phases with each phase covering a different geographical patch of the village and surrounding areas. Alncom will use a mix of Fibre & wireless to build a network that delivers superfast broadband to all of the different areas.

Phase one has just recently been completed and is now active, meaning that businesses and residents in Fontburn & Nunnykirk have access to these super-fast internet speeds for the first time (including the NW treatment works). 27 local residents have signed up for the service to date with positive feedback being received from staff at the NW treatment works .

Phase two will cover the Forestburn Gate area and is expected to be complete in 2017.

Phase three is Rothley / Longwitton and will be done by the beginning of 2018 and phase four will cover Harwood and be done following the completion of a community fibre scheme nearby.

Northumbrian Water has paid for the first phase of the work and the rest is being funded by Alncom using residents’ subscriptions to recoup the costs.
All residents in the area who are eligible to receive the service will be receiving information through the post and at local meetings about how they can sign up to the new super-fast service.

It is thought that the improvements could benefit over 150 properties and businesses in total

Louise Hunter, Northumbrian Water Director of Corporate Affairs, said: “We are really proud to be part of this project and to have played our part in helping to bring superfast and reliable internet to this remote and rural location. It will be a real boost for the treatment works and the fishing lodge but the benefits it will bring to local people and the local community will be felt much more. Everyone involved has been fantastic however the real thanks have to go to the residents of Fontburn. They’ve been the real driving force behind this project and without their determination and hard work then we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Northumberland County Council ward member for the area, Cllr Glen Sanderson, said: “This is fantastic news for these communities – with phase one of the work complete, and a further two phases coming along very shortly. Local people have worked over a number of years to secure a solution and I would like to congratulate them on their persistence and hard work.”

Cllr Nick Oliver is cabinet member responsible for the iNorthumberland project added: “Good internet access and broadband speeds are increasingly essential for everyday life – and are even more important when your work and livelihoods depend on these communications. It is great to see this innovative project which will open up world of possibilities for people, the area, local business.”

Stephen Pinchen from Alncom commented: “With a number of other companies unable to provide a solution, this was a perfect opportunity for Alncom to demonstrate how cutting-edge technology can be used to bring superfast broadband to remote rural locations, cost effectively. The benefits to the local community are massive and they’ve not had to pay a premium.”

Louise Kirkwood, Fontburn resident and Nunnykirk Parish Councillor, said: “This new Alncom service makes a huge difference to our rural community. Having access to reliable and affordable superfast broadband is essential to everyone nowadays. Sincere thanks to all involved for working so hard to get this innovative project up and running.”

For more information on the service and details on how to sign up visit www.alncom.co.uk or call 01665 604816.


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