21 December 2011

The county is a step closer to having complete coverage of superfast broadband after the government announced its approval of Northamptonshire County Council’s strategy to implement the work.

The council’s local broadband plan, which would bring potential internet speeds of 30Mb/sec for every household in the county, is only the fifth to receive the green light nationally.

The approval means that the government will now confirm the £4.08 million funding, which was announced earlier this year, once the council has completed the necessary procurement.

This funding will be matched by the county council to kick-start the process, which will invite bids from private companies to carry out the work.

Cllr Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for infrastructure and public protection, said: “High broadband speed will have huge advantages for Northamptonshire as it will allow the county to be a strong competitor in the global digital economy and allow everyone to have access to new and improved services that are increasingly available online.

“This announcement is a significant step towards everyone having these fast internet speeds and this means we are well on schedule to meet our targets for the initiative.

“In the increasingly competitive global economy it is essential that superfast broadband is widely available and indeed when people are looking to re-locate, fast internet speeds are a key priority.”

Urban areas are generally well served with fast internet speeds because the relatively high population density means that it is commercially viable for companies, such as BT and Virgin, to provide the necessary infrastructure.

However rural areas tend to have much slower speeds – such as 2Mb/sec – as the cost of extending the infrastructure is not financially lucrative in areas where there are fewer potential customers.

One of the key purposes of the county council’s strategy is providing public sector funding for the work to plug the financial gap and make it commercially worthwhile for private firms to do the work.

The county council is aiming for 90 per cent of the county to have superfast broadband speeds by the end of 2015 with 100 per cent coverage by the end of 2017.

It is scheduled that the procurement programme will start in May with the authority inviting tenders from companies. It is anticipated that work could begin by the end of 2012.

For the latest information visit the blog site www.superfastnorthamptonshire.wordpress.com