County front of queue for broadband investment
22 Mar 2021 ARCHIVED (over 3 months old) - view latest news
The council has welcomed news that Northumberland will be among the first to benefit from the government’s pledge to get ultra-fast broadband to the remotest homes in the UK.
Infrastructure work should start next year to bring gigabit-speed broadband to homes in the county – one of ten areas in the country in the first tranche of work.
A former voucher scheme is also being relaunched to provide more immediate help to those struggling with poor broadband coverage, with up to £210m being made available.
Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden said: "We've already made tremendous progress with Project Gigabit - our national mission to get everyone in the country the fastest broadband on the planet.
"We've gone from around 9% coverage in 2019 to 40% now - I'm confident we'll get to 60% by the end of the year.
"The challenge is the last 20%, which can't be delivered commercially - and that's what our plans being outlined today are all about."
Councillor Nick Oliver, cabinet member for corporate resources, said: “This is exciting news and we’re delighted to be among the first in the country to benefit. I have met with Digital Minister Matt Warman twice to make the case for Northumberland.
"This will help provide rural Northumberland with better connectivity than many city centres, which is crucial in maintaining our economic competitiveness and achieving social inclusion, now more than ever.”
The news comes on the back of other broadband announcements over recent days, including improved digital connectivity being one of the key strands of the newly signed Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal and Cityfibre announcing their intention to deliver to urban Northumberland areas.
Cllr Oliver added: “Our commitment to improved digital connectivity for all is continuing apace and with these announcements this week we’re very much at the front of the queue for these improvements.”