Whorlton is the latest Teesdale community to be upgraded to high-speed fibre broadband thanks to the multi-million pound Digital Durhamprogramme.

            Around 100 homes and businesses in the village can now place orders for the technology, boosting their broadband speeds to up to 80 Mbps1. A further 70 premises in nearby Greta Bridge and Whycliffe are set to follow, with work well under way to provide them with ultrafast broadband via Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology.

            Digital Durham is a partnership of local authorities – led by Durham County Council and BT Group – which aims to bring superfast broadband to homes and businesses in areas not included in commercial fibre rollouts.

            Whorlton resident David Kinch, chair of the TAP Transport and Environment Group and Westwick Parish Councillor, said: “The news that Whorlton can expect fibre broadband two months before Christmas is wonderful news for all the residents of the village, especially when we were not expecting it until the New Year.

“Well done to everyone who made it happen and thank you for this early Christmas present. It’s going to make a massive difference to many people in the village.”

            Across Teesdale around 10,000 premises have been upgraded by engineers from Openreach, the business responsible for Britain’s largest phone and broadband network. Most recently additional properties in Gainford have joined those upgraded earlier in the roll-out including Barnard Castle, Cotherstone, Bowes, Barningham, Staindrop, Romaldkirk and Eggleston. A further 456 will be upgraded under current roll-out plans.

            Welcoming the news, Cllr Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for transformation, said: “Broadband is an essential part of modern life – it is used for everything from homework to shopping to farming. Providing the necessary technology to more rural areas such as Teesdale involves extra challenges and there is no quick way to make it happen. But good progress continues to be made through Digital Durham and we are committed to making superfast broadband available to as many people as we can through the partnership using the funding we have available.”

In total more than 76,000 County Durham homes and businesses can now access fibre-based broadband rolled out as part of the Digital Durham programme. Nearly half of those who can, have chosen to upgrade to fibre-based broadband, but that still leaves many people in the slow lane, who could be benefitting from faster speeds.

            Derek Richardson, Openreach programme director for the North East, said: “Reaching very rural communities can be a real challenge. Frequently it requires innovative engineering and increasingly the use of FTTP technology in communities unsuitable for the standard roll-out approach.

            “However we continue to make great progress and are determined to keep pushing further and further out to the most remote corners of the county so that they too can enjoy the benefits of faster broadband speeds.”

            In total, £34 million has been invested in Digital Durham by BT Group, Durham County Council, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme and public sector partners in Gateshead, Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Tees Valley.[1]

            The second phase of the programme is well under way and by the end of the roll-out 97 per cent of County Durham will have access to fibre-based broadband.

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

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