03 July 2012

A significant step has been taken towards having complete coverage of superfast broadband in Northamptonshire after the government announced the county would be in the first wave in the national roll-out programme.

Northamptonshire County Council’s strategy to implement the work joins an elite group of five local authorities which have been given the green light to start the tendering process for the initiative.

Originally the county council had been included in the second wave of the roll-out programme but jumped forward after the government recognised the progress it has made, meaning implementation could now start as early as March 2013.

Cllr Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for infrastructure and public protection, said: “Faster broadband speeds 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, broadband speeds and reliability are paramount.”

The council’s local broadband plan would bring potential internet speeds of at least 30Mb/sec for every household and business in the county.

Earlier this year it was announced that the government would match fund the £4.08 million to be invested by the county council.

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 invest in superfast broadband across the whole county.

The county council is aiming for at least 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.

For the latest information visit the blog site www.superfastnorthamptonshire.net