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BT unveils super-fast broadband plans for thousands more homes and businesses in Tyne and Wear

Press Release   •   Feb 12, 2013 00:00 GMT

Investment will build area’s reputation as “a great place to live and do business”; 
Dunston, Birtley and Whickham included in BT’s roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband 

BT today announced a further expansion of high-speed fibre broadband in Tyne and Wear, which is expected to help create jobs and boost the local economy. 

Another 42,000 homes and businesses in the area are to be included in BT’s £2.5 billion commercial roll-out of fibre broadband in the UK. 

The three latest communities to benefit – Dunston, Birtley and Whickham – will be upgraded by the end of Spring 2014. The expansion also includes a substantial investment in making fibre broadband more widely available in areas which already have the high-speed technology or are due to receive it. 

The NewcastleGateshead Initiative said today that the investment would help to build confidence of an economic recovery among local households and businesses. 

It will take the total number of premises with access to fibre broadband in Tyne and Wear to around 320,000. More than 229,000 are already able to get the service - and BT is keen to bring more communities within reach by working with the public sector. 

Farooq Hakim, BT’s North East regional director, said: “This latest investment is a further vote of confidence in the future success of Tyne and Wear. It will be an important part of our economic revival as we finally shrug off the effects of the downturn and create a better, more prosperous future. 

“Fast, sophisticated communications are the cornerstone of a successful community, helping local people to build their skills and knowledge and encouraging the creation of new businesses and jobs. This exciting technology will transform on-line education, training and leisure for households and enhance the competitiveness of local firms. 

“BT has now announced plans to make fibre broadband available to more than 320,000 homes and businesses in Tyne and Wear. Reaching that target will be a substantial achievement, but we want to go much further by working with the public sector to bring this exciting technology to more challenging areas.” 

Welcoming the news, Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing agency, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “The announcement from BT of further investment in superfast broadband is fantastic news for the local area. High-speed technology is a must not a luxury for business in a modern age and it is essential that, here in NewcastleGateshead, we continue to embrace technological developments – not only to ensure local businesses can remain competitive, but also to strengthen the overall infrastructure and appeal of the area for potential national and international investors.” 

BT’s local network business, Openreach, will be making fibre broadband available to two-thirds of UK homes and businesses by the end of Spring 2014. The roll-out uses a mix of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP) technologies. More than 13 million UK premises can already access fibre broadband and this number is growing by around 100,000 every week. 

Both technologies offer speeds many times faster than the current UK average, reported by the regulator Ofcom to be 9Mbps. FTTC, where fibre is delivered to new street cabinets, offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps1. 

FTTP, where fibre runs all the way to homes and businesses, offers a variety of download speeds with the current top speed being 330Mbps1. From Spring 2013 BT aims to make speeds of 330Mbps1 available on demand in any area where FTTC has been deployed2. 

BT’s network is available on an open, wholesale basis to all companies providing broadband services so households and businesses in Tyne and Wear will benefit from a highly competitive market. 

Internet users with a fibre broadband connection can do much more online, all at the same time. A family can download a movie, watch a TV replay service, surf the net and play games online simultaneously. A whole album can be downloaded in less than 30 seconds and a feature length HD movie in less than 10 minutes, whilst high-resolution photos can be uploaded to Facebook in seconds. 

The upload speeds are the fastest widely available to consumers in the UK, with large video and data files being sent almost instantly and hi-resolution photos posted online in seconds. And high quality voice and video calls mean businesses can keep in touch with customers while they cut down on travel. 

For further information on Openreach’s fibre broadband programme visit 

North East locations included in today’s announcement: Darlington, Easington, Ebchester, Norton, Wellfield, Dunston, Whickham, Seaton Delaval, Redcar, Birtley, Barnard Castle and Beamish 

Notes to editors 

1These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. 
2 Openreach will levy an installation charge for FTTP on demand. It will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that onto businesses or consumers wishing to take advantage of the product. 

Due to the current network topography, and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within the selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Alternative solutions for these locations are being investigated.