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15,000 Extra Premises in the Tees Valley to Get Superfast Broadband

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016 (8:12 am) - Score 389
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The Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) has announced that a new deal will result in more than 15,000 extra homes and businesses around the North East of England being put within reach of a “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) capable network by the end of 2018.

A few months ago the joint £34 million Digital Durham project with Openreach (BT), which includes Gateshead, Sunderland and the Tees Valley area, successfully completed (here) its original goal of ensuring that 98% of local premises were covered by a “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network (note: 96% able to receive speeds of 24Mbps+).

On top of that a second £9m Superfast Extension Programme (SEP) contract already exists (here), which is just starting its deployment and aims to reach an additional 29,000 premises or 97% coverage of “superfast broadband” by December 2018. However there’s been a strong desire to go even further in the Tees Valley area.

At the time of writing around 93% of the Tees Valley region can access a superfast broadband network and the new deal agreed this week looks set to help boost that coverage. The TVCA, which includes five local councils (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees), now aims to exceed 98% coverage by the end of 2018.

Dave Budd, Chair of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, said:

“Digital connectivity is vital to residents and businesses in Tees Valley. We have made considerable progress, but the current level of access is still not good enough I want to see people and businesses in our area benefiting from the highest possible level of superfast connectivity. In the modern world this should be regarded as a vital utility; like access to water and power.

This is a good example of the benefits that flow from our devolution deal – bringing more investment into the Tees Valley to strengthen our economy and bring concrete benefits to our citizens.”

The precise level of funding is yet to be confirmed, although we do know that the money is expected to come from the Tees Valley Investment Fund, as well as a private sector supplier and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme.

So far £1 million has already been committed via the local Devolution Deal and this will be matched by BDUK (£2m total), although it’s likely that more will be needed to achieve the target. Clawback / Gainshare from the earlier BDUK contracts may eventually have a role to play too.

The new programme will once again be delivered in partnership with Digital Durham, although the investment level is quite small for achieving 15,000+ premises passed and that makes us wonder if they might also consider alternative network solutions (e.g. fixed wireless). Of course BT and its Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) solution will be in the frame too.

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Mark Jackson
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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