The village of Rock has become the first location in Northumberland to be upgraded to superfast broadband as part of the second phase of the multi million pound iNorthumberland broadband programme.

Thirty five homes and businesses in the North Northumberland community, which consists of a single street leading to a Norman church and the battlements of Rock Hall, will be joined by a further 3,700 homes and businesses across the county in the coming months.

This second phase will see more than £4.1 million invested in the programme area in addition to the £18.9 million invested in the first phase.

Engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, have been hard at work across the county and in the coming weeks people living and working in locations such as Netherton, Melkridge, Widdrington, Hebron, Matfen, Longhirst, Colwell, Doddington, and Carrshield will be able to order fibre broadband from their chosen service provider. More detailed information on the roll-out can be found at www.inorthumberland.org.uk.

Councillor Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: It’s great to see the second phase of this ambitious and high performing programme well underway.  How fantastic to celebrate the delivery of high speed broadband to small settlements like Rock – ensuring that residents, businesses and community organisations there can reap the same communications benefits as large towns.” 

AnneMarie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, added: “The roll out of fibre broadband is very important for communities across Northumberland but nowhere more so than in our most rural communities so it’s great news that Rock will be the first of many remote and rural communities brought up to speed by this second phase of the iNorthumberland roll-out.

“Broadband is now an essential part of modern life – used for everything from homework to shopping to farming. It is crucial to ensuring a connected and prosperous future for people living and working in the county.”

Already, around 36 per cent of households and businesses across the iNorthumberland programme area have ordered fibre broadband and are getting the benefits of faster broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps

The iNorthumberland team will be visiting Rock to explain why faster broadband is such good news and to answer any questions local people may have about the roll-out. On

Thursday 1st December the team will be at Rennington and Rock Village Hall between 11am and 12 noon and at South Charlton Village Hall between 1pm and 2pm.

Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, said: “From children doing their homework to caring for our elderly population and from social media to e-commerce and home entertainment – fast broadband is the critical enabler.

“Fibre is no longer a nice to have for business. It is a need to have. To compete effectively in this world of technology you need to be able to move, act and do business quickly and effectively.  Faster broadband breaks down the barriers to doing business in the digital world on activities like online trading, which helps to empower our small businesses.

“I would encourage those who can already access fibre-based broadband to contact their service provider to arrange an upgrade. It’s an ‘opt in’ service, but because the Openreach network is ‘open’, there is a wide choice of fibre broadband providers.”

The investment in fibre-based broadband will boost the local economy and help to create or protect local jobs. It will help businesses find new customers and become more competitive and efficient, whilst for households the high-speed technology will offer new educational, training and leisure opportunities.

At home the faster speeds 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.

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