17 February 2014

Superfast Broadband infrastructure could soon be available in Northampton’s Waterside Enterprise Zone – creating a key foundation to attracting businesses and stimulating growth.

Northamptonshire County Council has secured £300,000 of money from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to invest through the Superfast Northamptonshire project in the Enterprise Zone.

How will the money be used?

The money would be used by the County Council to help secure further private sector investment via a telecommunications supplier. Decisions on the route forward will be taken by the County Council at its Cabinet meeting in March.

Cllr Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for economic growth, strategic infrastructure and public protection, said: “This extra money is great news for Northampton and the county as a whole as the enterprise zone forms a key part of our plans to bring prosperity to Northamptonshire.

“This builds upon the already successful Superfast Northamptonshire project which is at the leading edge of superfast broadband rollout across Britain.

“This is a perfect example of how public money can be used intelligently and appropriately to create the conditions necessary for economic growth.”

Councillor David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “Northampton is already one of the UK hotspots for company start-ups and expansion.

“This latest announcement means firms in our Enterprise Zone will have the edge they need when fulfilling contracts or competing for new business.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “We are witnessing a remarkable transformation of Broadband and are on track to deliver superfast speeds to 95% of the UK by 2017.

“This extra funding will help ensure that businesses locating in the Enterprise Zone sites in Northampton’s Waterside are able to use superfast broadband to access customers and suppliers, and to take advantage of the power of the internet to create jobs and growth.”

Superfast targets

Superfast Northamptonshire, through its Next Generation Strategy, aims to beyond UK targets to secure access to superfast broadband for all homes and businesses in the county by the end of 2017.

Northamptonshire County Council is investing with telecoms suppliers to deploy fibre based broadband to those parts of the county which would otherwise not be served commercially. This could affect around 85,000 premises across Northamptonshire.

The county council has already partnered with BT to extend roll out to around 90 per cent of the county by 2015, when combined with planned commercial coverage.

The county council is now looking at achieving full superfast coverage throughout Northamptonshire and the investment in Northampton Waterside is part of this project.

Broadband benefits

The Next Generation Strategy supports Northamptonshire’s vision to be at the leading edge of the digital economy. Providing connectivity for local business is a key priority to support economic growth and to attract new investment.

The strategy promotes a ‘fibre first’ approach to the roll out of superfast broadband networks which should be capable of supporting access line speeds of at least 30Mbps.

However, a mix of technology solutions will be considered where fibre does not provide value for money. Alternative solutions will need to support the right quality of broadband services for local people and should enrich broadband connectivity in Northamptonshire.