Northumberland SME broadband seeks more solutions header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The suspension of a local scheme to provide local businesses with fibre broadband could force companies to look at alternative options, according to the Berwick Advertiser.

As part of an initiative provided by Broadband Delivery UK, Northumberland small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were able to apply for £3,000 vouchers to get connected to fast broadband.

A number of businesses in the county had been trying to team up to create their own internet network, but the abrupt suspension of the scheme in October has put this project in jeopardy. Northumberland SMEs had been able to apply for the vouchers since April 2015, when the government extended the scheme due to low levels of initial demand.

Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “Access to superfast broadband is becoming fundamental to our everyday lives and it is only right that all businesses expect to be able to access faster broadband speeds no matter where they live.

“The broadband programme underpins the growth plans we have for the county as connectivity is a major driver to business growth and we are committed to supporting and growing our rural economy.

“Since April, more than 260 businesses in Northumberland have applied for the funding to get their businesses connected through the voucher scheme. However, there are others that still want the opportunity to apply.”

He said that the council would work to find alternative provisions for these companies, but urged local MPs to apply political pressure to help ensure that as much of rural Northumberland as possible could be connected to fast and reliable internet.

While it is expected that 90 per cent of the county will be connected to fibre broadband by the end of the UK, there are still concerns about what will be done to help the remaining ten per cent of local homes and businesses.