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Detailed Map and FTTP Broadband on the Way for Rural Northumberland

Wednesday, Sep 10th, 2014 (5:00 am) - Score 2,083

The Northumberland County Council in North East England are preparing to upload a much more detailed map of their local superfast broadband roll-out through the state aid supported iNorthumberland project. But the new map also provides fresh evidence that BT is ramping up deployments of their “ultrafast” 330Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology.

At the time of writing Northumberland’s updated maps aren’t yet online, although we’re assured that they should surface sometime this week. So currently the best that locals can access via the iNorthumerland page is a high-ish resolution map with some very vague coloured areas (here) and not a lot of area-specific detail. It’s not the worst we’ve seen, but like others they could still do a lot better.

As the CEO of the Government’s related Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, Christopher Townsend, told us on Monday: “38 projects [out of about 44] have now published detailed broadband rollout maps, 26 of these are to 7 digit level. I wrote to the others in July encouraging them to do likewise and we will continue to press this with the local authorities” (here).

Thankfully the County Councillor for the Rothbury Division, Steven Bridgett, is currently chairing an important committee that’s been putting pressure on council officers and BT to release (somewhat reluctantly we understand) a more detailed map and last night the area committee finally had its wish granted. A sample copy of the map for Cllr Bridgett’s area is displayed below – pay close attention to the yellow areas (thanks kindly to Steven for this). Note: We shrank it a bit to fit.

rothbury broadband map sept2014

The map, which is clearly a welcome improvement, covers Cllr Bridgett Steven’s division, an area roughly 640sq km (164,000 Acres) and one of the most rural in Northumberland (it has parts of the Northumberland National Park within it and the Otterburn Military training area).

Regular readers will also note that some of the FTTP bits around Rothbury and Thropton form part of the Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF) project with BT (here), which is apparently due to start accepting orders at the end of this month.

But Cllr Steven notes that some of the other ‘yellow shaded’ areas “under consideration” for FTTP “have never been displayed on any of our maps before” and, much like other tentative and BDUK fuelled FTTP deployments that we’ve seen over the past few months, are also in some “surprisingly rural” areas (e.g. Elsdon). Cllr Steven notes that some of the nearby farms don’t even have mains electricity (generators), so for them to be considered for FTTP apparently came as somewhat of a surprise.

Admittedly being “under consideration” is not the same as confirmed for deployment, although it does act as further proof that BT now appear to be developing a more viable model for bringing ultrafast FTTP broadband to remote rural areas. Similar examples of this have now been seen across several BDUK schemes, with most of the related development expected to take place during the latter stages of the programme. At the same time it probably doesn’t hurt that Rothbury’s RCBF project has already done some of the necessary leg work.

Overall Northumberland aims to ensure that BT’s “fibre broadbandFTTC/P network can reach 95% of local premises by early 2016 (note: only 91% will get “superfast” speeds of 25Mbps+), which could rise further once BDUK’s Superfast Extension Programme (SEP) has been implemented.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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