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Boost for more County Durham homes and businesses as Digital Durham zooms past 70,000 milestone

Press Release   •   Aug 12, 2015 14:43 BST

Government announces three million UK premises can now get superfast as a result of its Broadband Delivery UK roll-out

More than 70,000 home and businesses are now able to connect to faster, fibre broadband thanks to the Digital Durham programme.

On average, engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, are switching on 22 new street cabinets and making the new fibre network available to around 4700 more premises every month.

The news comes as the Government today announced that the nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now reached more than three million homes and businesses. 1

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey, said: “We are transforming the digital landscape of the UK and our nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now reached an additional three million UK homes and businesses. I congratulate Digital Durham on having reached more than 70,000 properties in County Durham so far and on making incredible progress."

One of the latest communities in County Durham to benefit from the fibre roll-out is Sherburn where 2882 premises can now access the new technology. In recent weeks additional areas of Frosterley, Willington, Piercebridge and Cockfield have also been upgraded.

The Digital Durham team joined City of Durham MP Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods and members of the local community at Sherburn Community Centre to explain more about the roll-out and the benefits of using faster broadband. Similar events will be taking place throughout the programme area in the coming months giving local people and businesses a chance to learn more about the new technology and what it can do for them.

The Right Hon Roberta Blackman-Woods MP said: “I really welcome this announcement and it would appear to be excellent progress. People in Durham especially those that run businesses do raise the speed and availability of broadband with me and I hope therefore that the increased availability of superfast broadband will really improve Durham’s economy as well as make everyday life easier for everyone.”

Councillor Jane Brown, cabinet member for Corporate Services at Durham County Council, added: “We are delighted to hear that more than 70,000 homes and businesses can now access fibre broadband thanks to Digital Durham.

“As a council we are committed to helping boost access to online resources, whether educational, recreational or those available to businesses, and it is extremely encouraging to see the continuing success of the programme.

“We look forward to the programme reaching more areas of the county and we would encourage residents to attend their local information events and find out how they can benefit from fibre broadband too.”

A new phase of fibre deployment is already planned. This second phase will see a further £9 million invested in the programme area. It includes £2.68 million from the Government’s Superfast Extension Plan and £4 million from BT, with the remaining investment split between the local authority partners. An additional 12,000 homes and businesses will benefit as a result.

Speaking at the Digital Durham community event in Sherburn, Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, said: “Digital Durham is a very significant civil engineering project in the North East and the fact it continues to make such fantastic progress is testament to dedicated planners, engineers and the project team who manage the day to day running of the programme. The project team are also responsible for arranging community events such as this one which give local people and businesses the opportunity to discover why they should embrace superfast broadband. It is only when the new technology is being put to use that we will truly begin to see the wider benefits to the local economy and knock on effects such as job creation.”

Thousands of homes and businesses across the Digital Durham programme area have ordered fibre broadband and are now enjoying faster broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps[i]and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps. 2

It’s an ‘opt in’ service, but because the Openreach network is ‘open’, residents and businesses wanting to upgrade have a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 companies now operating across the UK.

Fibre broadband at home means everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in a few minutes; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. Fibre improves the quality of online experiences and supports new developments in internet services.
Benefits for businesses include faster file and data transfers, better access to cloud computing services and software, more sophisticated web-based contact with customers and support for more flexible working.

Fibre broadband enables multiple users in a home or business to access the internet, download and share large files at the same time more quickly than ever before. In order to take advantage of the higher speeds now available, residents should contact their service provider.
The Digital Durham broadband programme is delivered by Durham County Council and BT.In total, £34 million has been invested by BT, Durham County Council, Gateshead Council, Government funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and public sector partners in Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and the Tees Valley.

The second phase of the programme is expected to begin in 2017 and by the end of the roll-out 97 per cent of premises within the programme area will have access to fibre broadband.

For more information about the Digital Durham programme please visit www.digitaldurham.org

ENDS

For further information please contact the BT Regional Press Office on 0800 085 0660. All our news releases can be found at www.btplc.com/news

1The Government’s nationwide rollout of superfast broadband - internet speeds greater than 24Mbps – has now reached more than three million homes and businesses.

2These are the top wholesale speeds available from BT’s local network business Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary

Notes to Editors:

Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio comprises three linked programmes:

  • £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
  • £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
  • £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
  • Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

    For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

    About Digital Durham

    The Digital Durham programme‘s vision is to improve the economic and social wellbeing of residents, by enabling a greater access to digital services through the provision of fibre broadband and other ground breaking technologies to businesses, homes and communities in County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland, the five Tees Valley areas, North Tyneside and South Tyneside.

    Working in partnership with BT, we aim to bring faster broadband to those areas that are outside of any commercial roll-out plans. By mid-2016, we aim to bring superfast broadband speeds to at least 94% of the programme area, with a minimum of 2Mbps for all.