The iNorthumberland programme in England has this week celebrated the completion of their first Broadband Deliver UK contract, which has expanded the availability of BT’s “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network to more than 52,500 extra homes and businesses in the county.
Overall a total of 146,000 premises (this includes BT’s separate commercial roll-out) in the county now have access to faster FTTC/P based broadband services and a little over 90% of local premises should thus be able to take a “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) connection, which rises to 95% if you include sub-24Mbps FTTC areas.
The news is positive, although we should point out that the contract originally promised to deliver this coverage by December 2015 and has instead ended 6 months later than planned. On the other hand that’s not too bad considering the complexity of such a roll-out and the fact that there was a fair bit of rural focused ultrafast 330Mbps FTTP involved (e.g. Rothbury).
Simon Roberson, BT’s Regional Director for the North East, said:
“Bringing fibre broadband to rural parts of Northumberland has not been easy and reaching some extremely remote parts of Northumberland is a great achievement and is testament to the dedication of around 100 Openreach planners and engineers who have been keeping busy, clocking up thousands of man hours to plan and carry out this mammoth feat of civil engineering.
Since the first green fibre street cabinet went live in January 2014 hundreds of kilometres of underground fibre optic cable has been laid and 219 new cabinets installed in what is one of the county’s largest civil engineering projects in recent years. However, there is still more to do and, as well as continuing the roll-out, we are also looking at ways to make existing fibre services go faster and reach further. We want to keep that momentum going so communities the length and breadth of the county get the maximum possible benefit.
I would encourage those with access to fibre broadband to contact their service provider to arrange an upgrade. It’s an ‘opt in’ service, but because the Openreach network is ‘open’, there is a wide choice of fibre broadband providers.”
Work is now underway on a second extension contract worth £4.1m (this is on top of the £18.9m already invested), which aims to superfast broadband to 95% of local premises by the end of 2017 and this should benefit around 3,700 additional premises.
On that front we’ve already revealed a full list of the first areas to benefit from Phase 2 (here) and this looks set to be based around a taxpayer subsidy limit of £1,700 per household (i.e. the costs increase as deployments focus on increasingly isolated and smaller rural communities).