» ISP News » 

Northumberland UK and BT Launch £2.2m Rural Community Broadband Fund

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017 (5:23 pm) - Score 841

The Northumberland County Council, which is currently working with Openreach (BT) to expand the coverage of “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) connectivity to 95% of local premises by the end of 2017, has launched a new £2.2m community fund that could benefit a further 2,000 premises.

The new fund aims to complement Openreach’s existing deployment contract by inviting communities, specifically those that aren’t currently planned to benefit from the current iNorthumberland roll-out project, to apply for funding under the new scheme via a designated individual (community representative) or organisation.

The scheme itself will offer up to £2,000 of matched funding per premise for a “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+ FTTC) connection or up to £2,500 for “ultrafast broadband” (100Mbps+ FTTP) – with a maximum contribution available to a single community being capped at £100,000. The general idea is that private / community investment would cover up to 50% of the cost and Openreach will then fill the gap.

As well as the 50:50 funding option, there could be further opportunities for areas to become connected. For example, in instances where Openreach cannot provide a quote under the criteria of the fund, there will be secondary funding within the scheme which could be used to seek alternative network solutions, such as fibre via a different network provider, fixed wireless or 4G mobile.

Cllr Nick Oliver, Northumberland County Council, said:

“I am really pleased that we have been able to agree the funding for this scheme, and to get the ball rolling for a number of communities who are geared up to sign contracts, and get work underway.

We know that there is a high demand amongst households in these more hard to reach areas, and also that a number of businesses are struggling to sustain their current business models due to connectivity issues.

Securing schemes through this funding will help to increase access to services and allow greater adoption of digital services for rural residents. It will also help to grow the economy by both supporting existing businesses and encouraging new ones to become established in Northumberland.”

Apparently a number of remote communities are already close to signing the first contracts under this scheme, including Nunnykirk, Stanton near Netherwitton, Bolam, Pauperhaugh and Styford. We note that part of Nunnykirk also looks set to benefit via another community effort to deploy a new fixed wireless broadband service (here).

Steve Haines, Openreach’s MD of NGA Broadband, said:

“It is great to be able to work with Northumberland County Council and communities from across the County to find a fibre broadband solution.

Openreach is committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible for households and businesses. The technology really does have the ability to transform the way people interact online.”

A number of local authorities have already launched similar co-funded community schemes alongside Openreach and the funding for this one appears to have been “made available due to efficiencies in the first phase of the iNorthumberland programme” (no details were given). However we did also spot some potentially bad news in the council’s press release.

At present the front page of iNorthumberland’s website states that it aims to “bring superfast broadband to 95% of the county by the end of 2017” and we know that they’re currently hovering around the 92% mark. Sadly today’s press release states that they only expect to hit 93% by the end of 2017, although “it is envisaged that through this new community fund it could [eventually] reach close to 98%” (no firm date is given for this expectation).

In fairness Northumberland has a lot of difficult rural communities to tackle in that final 8% and so we’re not surprised that it might take a little longer than expected to reach the current target of 95%.

Add to Diigo
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.
Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. Avatar chris conder

    the superfarce rocks on.

    • Avatar GNewton

      I have to agree. The public funding with the heavy focus on wrong technologies like VDSL, and giving so much money to BT, a commercial company, has been a farce, a waste of taxpayer’s money.

    • Avatar Fastman

      Gnewton most of this will be FTTP a significant greater proportion of there are now not FTTC but FTTP

  2. Avatar Fastman

    consistent as ever – also majority of this by the very rurality of it will be FTTP as well

  3. Avatar bob

    The waste of tax payers money rolls on. A third of people don’t use internet and the other third just nees a basic 2mg connection.

    • The ONS reports that 90% of British households have Internet access, which leaves 10% with no access and apparently 64% of those felt as if they didn’t need the internet (i.e. it was regarded as not useful or interesting), while 20% said they lacked skills and 12% reported that they had access to the internet elsewhere.

      Your comment might be more accurate if it were made 7-8 years ago.

    • Avatar Optimist

      I’m inclined to agree that the public subsidy should be ended. IMO this would stimulate innovation in the development of affordable broadband solutions for the hard-to-reach places, for example fixed-point wireless. But today, why would entrepreneurs invest in such services faced with the real possibility that they are likely to be wiped out by publicly-funded fibre?

      The public money saved should go to reduce the VAT on our broadband bills!

    • Avatar MikeW

      You’re right Optimist – why would anyone choose to invest to then compete with public funds? A perfectly valid point, today.

      But yesterday, public subsidy only presented itself as an option of last resort. Only being valid where entrepreneurs decided to not invest in the first place.

      2010-2012 was the primary point at which entrepreneurs needed to decide whether they would invest in an area, and hold the public subsidy at bay. 2014-16 presented secondary opportunities to lock out public subsidy from the second phase.

      Given that no-one took advantage to any great extent in those two rounds (save, to a limited geography, Gigaclear), why should we believe that stopping public subsidy now will make a difference?

      Gigaclear made a great case for how a rurally-focused company could perform commercial work around the time of phase 1, locking out subsidies, to then switch to a position in phase 2 of winning subsidies.

      If the one company that found its entrepreneurial spirit in phase 1 needed to turn to subsidies in phase 2, what hope for anyone still left out if subsidies now stop?

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £21.00 (*25.00)
    Avg. Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: £50 Shopping Voucher
  • TalkTalk £21.95 (*36.00)
    Avg. Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • xln telecom £22.74 (*47.94)
    Avg. Speed 66Mbps, Unlimited (FUP)
    Gift: None
  • Post Office £22.90 (*37.00)
    Avg. Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Direct Save Telecom £22.95 (*29.95)
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. BT (2534)
  2. FTTP (2255)
  3. FTTC (1676)
  4. Building Digital UK (1616)
  5. Politics (1444)
  6. Openreach (1432)
  7. Business (1258)
  8. Statistics (1110)
  9. FTTH (1106)
  10. Mobile Broadband (1056)
  11. Fibre Optic (978)
  12. Ofcom Regulation (922)
  13. 4G (918)
  14. Wireless Internet (918)
  15. Virgin Media (870)
  16. EE (602)
  17. Sky Broadband (601)
  18. TalkTalk (586)
  19. Vodafone (532)
  20. 3G (417)
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact