The Northumberland County Council in England has confirmed that a third extension contract worth £6.4 million has been signed with Openreach (BT), which will enable an additional 3,200 homes and businesses to access their FTTC/P based “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) network.
At present the county’s iNorthumberland project has already enabled 90% of local premises to access a “superfast broadband” network (95%+ if you include the sub-24Mbps “fibre” footprint) and a second £4.1m Phase 2 extension contract is currently under-way, which will push the existing network reach out to another 3,700 premises (details).
By comparison the new deal reflects some £1 million of extra public investment from the council, plus £1 million from the Broadband Delivery UK programme and finally BT has also returned £4.4 million from the first contract due to deployment savings and clawback / gainshare (i.e. public money returned as a result of high customer take-up in upgraded areas, which currently sits at an impressive 40%).
Most of the current deployment has used slower ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable FTTC technology, although about 2,300 premises were also done with ultrafast FTTP. Overall the project currently hopes to bring superfast broadband to 95% of the county by the end of 2017, although today’s news of another 3,200 premises should push beyond that target.
Simon Roberson, BT’s North East Partnership Director, said (Northumberland Gazette):
“More than 152,000 homes and businesses in Northumberland can now access fibre broadband thanks to iNorthumberland and BT’s own commercial roll-out.
The second phase of the iNorthumberland programme continues at pace and now that an extension has been agreed, it makes us more determined than ever to improve broadband speeds as widely as possible across the county.
BT’s ambition is to never say no to any community that wants superfast broadband. We have launched a Community Fibre Partnerships programme where we work with a local group not covered by an existing fibre upgrade plan – this could be the residents of a rural village or a block of flats in a town centre or even a group of business owners in an industrial park – to find a solution to bring fibre to their area.”
Apparently some of the areas that can expect to benefit from improved coverage of FTTC/P broadband technology under the new contract extension include Alwinton, Guyzance, Boulmer, Chillingham, Doxford, Woodhorn, Tritlington, Weldon Bridge, Kirkley, Wark, Mindrum, Akeld, Cheswick and Twizell.