Openreach and Northumberland join to launch £2.2m rural community broadband fund

The Northumberland County Council has been joined by Openreach to launch a new community fund to expand coverage to 95% of county premises, by the end of the year. The £2.2 million community fund would help give access to superfast broadband (24Mbps+) to a further 2,000 local premises. The new fund is inviting those communities that currently are not to benefit from the rooll out of the iNorthumberland project.

The fund aims to complement the existing deployment of Openreach, allowing communities to apply via a designated individual, such as a community representative or an organisation. Some of the communities likely to sign the first contracts under the scheme are Styford, Pauperhaugh, Bolam, Stanton near Netherwitton and Nunnykirk.

Under the scheme, up to £2,000 of match funding for superfast broadband (24Mbps+, FTTC) link per premise, or for an ultrafast brodband (100Mbps+, FTTP) link, but capped at £100,000 for a single community, will be provided. With 50% of the cost covered by the community, or private investment, Openreach will put in the other 50%.

Nick Oliver, Councillor of the Council is pleased with the funding agreement and to get the ball rolling for communities ready to sign contacts. They know of the high demand from hard to reach areas, he remarked. The fund will help to boost up access and in increase adoption of many digital services, to help grow the rural economy by sporting existing businesses and encourage new ones in the county, he added.

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