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Rural communities to get broadband boost to improve connectivity

Find out more and sign up or to read case studies of people that have benefitted from the scheme, rural residents and SMEs here

  • Launch of Broadband Upgrade Fund campaign offers rural residents and small businesses in Northumberland up to £3,500 for faster and more reliable broadband to benefit whole community
  • Over half (54%) Northumberland residents surveyed who use broadband say the internet has played an important part in helping combat feelings of isolation or loneliness during lockdown
  • Over a third (40%) of Northumberland broadband-using residents surveyed claim they would be able to do their job better if they had a faster internet connection at home
The government’s Broadband Upgrade Fund campaign has launched in Northumberland to help businesses, employees and countryside communities take advantage of all the benefits associated with faster and more reliable internet connections.

The government is offering rural residents up to £1,500 and small to medium sized businesses up to £3,500 to upgrade to gigabit broadband, which is capable of download speeds of 1 gigabit (1000 megabits) per second and is much faster than the current speeds experienced across Northumberland.

Upgrading to gigabit broadband will mean homes and businesses in Northumberland will have the world-class, future-proof and reliable internet connections they need to keep pace with new advances in technology, and the jobs and growth that comes with it, in the decades to come.

Encouraging communities to come together, residents and businesses can combine their interest to increase the overall fund the community is entitled to. Registration is open until 30 September 2020, and rural residents and business owners in Northumberland are encouraged to check if they are eligible. (https://broadband-upgrade-fund.campaign.gov.uk/register)

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: ''Better broadband enhances people’s lives and the government is making it easier for rural communities in Northumberland to access the economic and social benefits of gigabit-capable broadband.

“Those suffering with slow internet speeds can receive a significant contribution towards the costs of getting quicker and more reliable internet connections into their homes or businesses through this initiative.

“I urge people to sign up to find out if they’re eligible for this next-generation broadband boost.”

Cllr Nick Oliver, cabinet member for corporate resources, said: “These grants are a great opportunity for our rural residents and businesses to gain faster and more reliable internet connections, especially at a time when working from home is so important.

“We want as many people to take advantage of this funding as possible, as it will prove to be a huge boost for many people’s livelihoods.”

It comes as new research finds that reliable broadband can play a key role in keeping people connected during Covid-19. Over half (54%) Northumberland broadband-using residents surveyed say the internet has played an important part in helping combat feelings of isolation or loneliness during lockdown.

During lockdown over half (59%) of all broadband-using, working respondents in Northumberland worked from home ‘all’ or ‘most of the time’ but over a third (36%) were at times frustrated at an unreliable internet connection. Four in ten (40%) claim they would be able to do their job better if they had a faster internet connection.

Better and more reliable broadband should be especially helpful in Northumberland, where almost a quarter (24%) said the quality of their video calls whilst working from home were ‘frequently poor’ because of their internet connection and 22% have struggled to join or dropped out of virtual meetings.

Find out more and sign up or to read case studies of people that have benefitted from the scheme, rural residents and SMEs here

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