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Government Approve £24m Full Fibre Rollout for North of Tyne Region

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019 (12:43 pm) - Score 1,491

The UK Government’s Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme has approved a £12m bid from the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA), which will support the rollout of a new Gigabit capable fibre optic network to public sector sites across rural parts of Newcastle, North Tyneside (Tyne and Wear) and Northumberland.

As we reported last month (here), the investment is expected to be match by the local authorities (total of £24m) and will be focused on the region’s rural areas which traditionally struggle to attract this kind of funding. Overall the new “full fibre” network aims to connect as many as 900 public buildings (council, NHS, police sites etc.).

In theory this new network could eventually also be extended to support 1Gbps speed broadband ISP connectivity to local homes and businesses, although that would require a significant private investment from a commercial partner. We’ve seen a similar anchor tenancy style model being used by Cityfibre to help deploy a Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network alongside UK ISP partner Vodafone (here).

Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said:

“This is a fantastic outcome which will allow us to further enhance the region’s reputation for its pioneering approaching to technological developments.

We have one of the fastest-growing technology sectors outside the capital, and the rollout of full fibre internet to those more rural regions will help more communities within the North of Tyne area benefit from that.”

Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor, said:

“Just as connectivity with the railways changed people’s lives in the industrial revolution, Full Fibre is part of the Green Industrial Revolution.

The Full Fibre project gives us an edge in infrastructure. It gives a platform for clean economic growth – as virtual reality software becomes increasingly common, it helps tackle climate change by reducing the need to drive around in order to connect with each other.”

A lot of this sounds very technical – but in layman’s terms, Full Fibre increases the internet bandwidth to our rural communities by a factor of 50. All aspects of our lives will use more data connectivity – businesses collaborating through teleconferencing, people working from home, our kids learning with virtual reality, even the way we shop.

With the North of Tyne delivering this, rural Northumberland will have better connectivity than most UK city centres.”

The next step for the NTCA will be to go on the hunt for a supplier, which is a process that tends to take several months and so it might be 2020 before we learn more about their final rollout plan. At present it sounds like they want the Phase One build to be completed in rural Northumberland by 2021.

Whether or not this eventually morphs into a network that helps to connect homes and businesses though is still an open question and is currently more of an unofficial aspiration than a target.

UPDATE 3:06pm

Not everybody seems to share the NTCA’s optimism about today’s news.

Steven Bridgett, Councillor for Rothbury, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“This will benefit absolutely no-one who doesn’t already have superfast broadband. So all of those residents and businesses who currently have less than 2mbps connections, never mind 24mbps connections, will still be absolutely no further forward after this money has been spent.

This is because of one plainly obvious reason, those areas are in such remote locations there are NO public buildings.

The council should instead be investing that money in trying to connect those difficult to reach residents and ensuring every household and business is able to crawl before some are given the opportunity to run.

If the funding of broadband continues down this path and pushed by officers at the North of Tyne and perhaps even NCC, who have no idea what truly rural actually is, we really are going to end up with a huge disparity in broadband quality across Northumberland.

The majority of those truly rural residents who happen to be impacted by this, also happen to live in Conservative held council divisions. Again, this is a top down backwards approach mentality, that just leaves more people in rural areas further isolated and left behind.”

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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
8 Responses
  1. Chris says:

    The Allen valley is building it’s own gigabit fibre network B4AV. That is where the investment should go.

    1. Jonathan says:

      Except Allendale is not North of the Tyne…….

  2. Matthew says:

    i think if these government anchor contracts continue we could start to see more FTTP branch out of cities if companies like CityFibre get behind them. But i think we all know a BDUK Phase 4 for rural areas is needed and if the Prime Minister Elect if his election victory speech is going by take with pinch of salt but we might small money in upcoming budget but obviously we need more. I do think with crazy increase in HS2 it’s making it even more likely to be cancelled

    1. Fastman says:

      HS2 wil not be cancelled

    2. Matthew says:

      It needs to be at this point it’s already projected to cost double the initial cost I don’t get how that can be justified anymore as value for tax payers.

  3. Jazzy says:

    Looks to me like it’s public money being used to give leftie council workers a better connection at work.

    The public want the connections, not the public buildings

  4. Gary says:

    Steven Bridgett /clap Voicing the reality of the LFFN ‘promise’ that this scheme will make connecting rural people easier.

    In some cases it could IF the right approach is taken with the positioning of AG points etc with a real plan for further expansion, in many others it will do little or nothing to push faster connections out into the rural areas.

    Providing connectivity to public buildings is not in itself a bad thing, tagging on these fluff statements that its going to help others without any information about the intended plans.

    I don’t speak for all areas naturally, but the nearest public building to me would be the Community centre, its about 2 1/2 miles away and about 30 metres from an FTTC cab. Fibre to the community centre isn’t going to improve my ADSL line.

    Has anyone got any interesting links to actual details on what the Plans are for LFFN infrastructure ? Where the GOV actually state what is intended to be installed at these ‘HUBS’ to provision this connectivity beyond the public sector buildings.

  5. TheFacts says:

    I guess these sites have a mixture of networks and connectivity and it’s effectively a tender to sort it all out.

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