Loans scheme aims to complete Northumberland superfast …

High Speed broadband could soon be coming to Northumberland

High Speed broadband could soon be coming to Northumberland

APPROVAL has been given for a pioneering, 1.3m loans scheme which aims to provide the final pieces in the jigsaw for high speed broadband coverage across Northumberland.

Earlier this month an 18.9m deal was agreed with BT to roll out superfast broadband connections to 91% of homes and businesses in the county.

BT was awarded the contract to deliver the iNorthumberland programme, which aims to transform broadband speeds across England s most sparsely populated county. Now the iNorthumberland loans scheme which the county council claims is the first of its kind in the country has been set up to allow private sector operators to deliver services to the remaining 9% of the county.

Three companies wireless broadband operator Briskona and satellite providers QSat and Avonline will be able to get loans from the council to help ensure that gaps in high speed broadband coverage, often in rural and isolated areas, are plugged.

They will be able to access the loans over a three-year period to develop their businesses, while signing up customers for their broadband services. In most cases, the loan will be paid after properties have been connected, ensuring that funds are only released when the company can repay the loan to the council.

As well as the main 18.9m BT contract, Northumberland has secured 2.74m from the European Regional Development Fund to create a 5.48m funding pot to deliver its Digital Economy Programme.

This will provide faster and improved broadband services for 2,600 businesses. In addition, the Rothbury area was the first in the country to get funding from the Government s Rural Community Broadband Fund.

Yesterday Kate Roe, deputy chief executive at Northumberland County Council, said: The contract signed recently with BT means that 91% of properties in the county will have access to superfast broadband speeds in the next few years.

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The iNorthumberland loans scheme will ensure the rest of the county can benefit too, and help us to secure maximum coverage. This is vitally important for businesses and residents based in rural areas.

The new scheme will make residents and businesses aware of the broadband options available in their area.

Much of the technology is available now, and can deliver download speeds in excess of 20mbps.

With satellite and wireless-based broadband services, there is often an up-front cost for equipment and installation.

One of the aims of the scheme is to help the three companies offer free or subsidised equipment, so that people who can t afford these costs are not disadvantaged.

From next month, delivery of the iNorthumberland broadband project will become the responsibility of the county council s arms-length development company Arch.

The three operators involved in the loans scheme are expected to establish a base in the county, and create a digital cluster based around the Arch digital company.

iNorthumberland loans scheme will help us to secure maximum coverage

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