06 February 2013

Telecommunications firm BT has been chosen by Northamptonshire County Council as the preferred supplier to deliver superfast broadband infrastructure across the county.

The decision is subject to the approval of Cabinet and a report outlining the proposal will be heard at a meeting on Wednesday, February 13.

The county council is aiming for 90 per cent of premises in the county to have superfast (24Mbps and above) broadband speeds by the end of 2015, with the intention of all premises being able to access at least 2Mbps. These superfast speeds will be made possible by the deployment of Next Generation Access (NGA) infrastructure through the ‘superfast Northamptonshire’ project.

The county council plans to work with BT and local stakeholders to secure further gap funding in support of its ultimate ambition to achieve full NGA coverage by the end of 2017 which can support even higher access line speeds of 30Mbps and above.

Last year the county council announced that the superfast Northamptonshire project was only the fifth to receive the green light nationally to use the Government’s Broadband Framework, managed by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), to procure an industry partner to co-invest in the county.

BDUK has allocated £4.08 million of funding for the Northamptonshire initiative, which will be matched by the county council.

Cllr Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for infrastructure and public protection, said: “I’m delighted that our plan to deliver superfast broadband throughout the county has reached this very significant stage.

“This 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.”

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

However rural areas tend to have much slower speeds – some even less than 2Mbps. The cost of extending the infrastructure is much higher and not financially viable in more rural areas where longer distances have to be bridged and 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 fill the financial gap and make it commercially attractive for an industry partner to carry out the work.

For the latest information visit our superfast broadband blog.

For details of how the county council is working to help stimulate economic growth visit our Kickstart Northamptonshire pages.