What is iNorthumberland?
Plans to plug rural broadband divide with £1.3 million loan scheme
Northumberland County Council isn’t messing about when it comes to plugging the rural broadband divide.
As its the most sparsely populated region of England with 60 per cent of the county area consisting of ‘difficult to reach’ areas, iNorthumberland has launched a £1.3 million loan scheme ISPs offering ‘wireless, satellite broadband or other alternative technologies.’
The final amount of the loan will be based on the number of customers connected and will be repayable over three years, with part of the monthly subscription cost able to help pay back the Council.
The main advantage is that this will see rural communities getting a broadband solution sooner rather than later, and the money paid back can be reinvested elsewhere.
Stephen Gray, iNorthumberland programme director hopes to have the scheme “rolled out from February,” with four ISPs likely to carry out the work.
The closing date for applications is January 25 and so far 19 companies have so far expressed an interest.
January 4, 2013
What is iNorthumberland?
iNorthumberland is an initiative set up by Northumberland County Council to help promote the Council’s broadband plans for the immediate future.
Broadband take up in the region (66 per cent) is lower than the UK national average (71 per cent) and 60 per cent of the population live in hard to reach rural areas.
So far, £25 million of UK Government funding has been allocated to Northumberland for urban and rural broadband rollout.
Like the majority of UK areas, parts of the county including Alnwick and Amble have been earmarked for fibre broadband from BT, with over 50,000 homes and businesses in Bedlington, Morpeth and Ponteland able to order in FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) broadband.
But not everywhere will be reached by fibre by 2015, if the Council’s plans are anything to go by. The geographical and population distribution challenges presented by Northumberland show that putting fibre everywhere will be difficult before the 2015 deadline, hence why the Council plans to use satellite and wireless broadband to connect the so-called ‘last ten per cent’.
As is the case elsewhere in the UK, the plan is to get everyone in Northumberland capable of getting download speeds of at least 2Mbps by 2015. The intention is to get 90 per cent of the region capable of getting speeds of 25Mbps by 2015, with the remaining 10 per cent getting 2Mbps guaranteed.