A map has been published to show people in Northumberland where and when they can expect to receive superfast broadband.
iNorthumberland, a project which will see fibre broadband delivered to 95% of the county, has released a rollout and coverage map detailing which areas already have the top broadband service, the areas due to be connected by the end of March 2014, and parts of the county scheduled for connection by the end of 2014 and the end of 2015 respectively.
The map further shows areas - mostly sparsely populated areas of countryside - where alternative solutions are being investigated in an effort to bring faster broadband to more communities.
This includes on-going investigations into the possibilities of using further rounds of funding from Defra’s Rural Community Broadband Fund, and may include the use of alternative technologies instead of fibre.
The iNorthumberland broadband programme is the result of the signing of an £18.9m deal between BT and Northumberland County Council six months ago.
It is being delivered by Arch, the council’s private sector arms-length development company and Openreach - BT’s local network business.
Northumberland’s current average downstream speed is 8.3 megabits per second (Mbps) and 15.9% of premises receive less than two Mbps.
The programme will see 660km of fibre laid – seven times the length of the A1 through Northumberland - allowing 91% of county homes and businesses access to broadband speeds of up to 80 Mbps by January 2016.
A further 4% of the county will also benefit from an improvement in speeds of up to 25Mbps via the fibre network. The remaining 5% of premises will also see faster speeds as the project aims to deliver two Mbps or more to all homes and businesses.
Towards the end of the project, BT will also look to work with communities in the final 5% to see if fibre can be extended further through collaborative projects.
The iNorthumberland map will be regularly updated as work is completed in areas and will provide more specific detail on the next period of deployment.
Coun Allan Hepple, policy board member responsible for regeneration at the council, said: “Superfast broadband is extremely important to the economic future of Northumberland.
“This map provides a visual summary of how we expect the broadband project to develop across the county, and we look forward to working closely with Arch, through iNorthumberland, to bring faster broadband speeds to even more communities.”
Peter McIntyre, Arch group managing director, added: “Superfast broadband will open the doors to countless business opportunities in the county, deploying broadband is vital to help local businesses to be competitive and ensure they remain here.
“It can also play an important role in attracting even more firms to Northumberland thereby helping to create jobs for local people.”
To view the map, drawn up by the county council, visit http://www.inorthumberland.org.uk/my-area .
People can also find out more about Arch’s work by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.