New multi million partnership will boost broadband across Newcastle

September 2, 2013

97 per cent of homes and businesses to have access to fibre broadband by the end of Summer 2015.

Newcastle City Council has joined forces with BT in a £3.8 million deal to extend the availability of high-speed fibre broadband to 97 per cent of homes and businesses in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The Go Digital programme will build on BT’s commercial investment of £2.5 billion to roll fibre broadband out to two-thirds of UK premises by the end of Spring 2014. This investment has already brought fibre broadband to parts of central Newcastle, West Newcastle, Gosforth, Jesmond, Lemington and Wideopen with Denton Burn and Kenton set to follow by the end of Spring 2014.

BT was awarded the contract following a procurement exercise through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework. The company is contributing £1.89 million towards fibre deployment in “non-commercial” areas with Newcastle City Council investing £970,000 plus its £970,000 share of BDUK funds.

The investment in fibre broadband will boost the local economy and help to create or protect local jobs. It will be of particular benefit to local businesses which can use the faster speeds to improve their competitiveness both within the UK and abroad.

Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, said: “Newcastle upon Tyne is witnessing a broadband revolution that will see thousands of homes and businesses across the region gain access to superfast broadband speeds in 2015. The UK already does more business online than any other European country, and widespread access to superfast broadband will provide a tremendous boost to the local economy.”

BT’s network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis and so consumers and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market. This was an important stipulation in the tender process. More than 80 service providers across the UK are currently trialling or offering fibre broadband over BT’s network.

Cllr Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “Given that the internet is integral to how we live our lives now, from shopping online to playing games to watching films, ensuring all homes have fibre broadband access will put Newcastle at the forefront of ensuring that residents are fully connected.

“In addition, high speed reliable broadband access is an essential modern day business tool, and we are determined that we will have the best connectivity of any European city to make Newcastle a natural home for businesses to grow in the future.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director for Next Generation Access, added: "This project aims to make faster and more reliable broadband available to everyone in Newcastle, making the city one of the best connected in the UK. Not only that, it will have among the fastest broadband speeds of any major city in Europe, helping businesses reach new markets and products and compete on both a national and international scale.”

“It is also great news for residents who will be able to access new job opportunities, and shop around for cheaper services. Fibre is transforming the way we use the internet at home, from communicating with family and friends to entertainment, shopping and online gaming.”

Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) will be the main technology deployed which delivers wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps.

Openreach has also started to make fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, where the fibre runs all the way to the home or business, commercially available on demand in certain areas where fibre broadband has been deployed, and plans to expand access in due course. FTTP-on-demand offers the top current download speed of 330Mbps.

Sarat Pediredla is the managing director of Newcastle based Hedgehog Lab, a company which designs, develops and markets apps and digital solutions for post-pc devices such as mobile phones, tablets and TV. He said: “Fibre is absolutely crucial for our day to day work which often involves both downloading and uploading huge files. It is vital that we have a rapid internet connection as it enables us to deliver to our customers in minutes rather than hours.

“Newcastle is a great location to set up business. It has a vibrant technology community, access to skilled labour and business costs that are significantly lower than other major cities. Adding fibre to that list enables us and other business to compete further afield.  Although around 90 per cent of our customer base is in London fibre we can give them a top quality, speedy service from our North East base.

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; downloading HD or 3D movies in the few minutes it takes to make popcorn; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. Fibre improves the quality of online experiences and supports exciting new developments in internet services.

The benefits are also considerable for businesses, which can do much more in far less time. Firms can speed up file and data transfers, collaborate with colleagues and customers on conference or video calls or swap their hardware and expensive software licenses for files, processing power and software from cloud computing. Staff can work as effectively from home as they would in the office.