Construction of a new full fibre broadband internet network is now underway in Teesdale to connect more than 4,000 hard-to-reach homes and businesses.
Borderlink, trading as GoFibre, was awarded the £6.6m contract last autumn and has spent the last six months planning and surveying for the build alongside the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Durham County Council.
Construction will take place until 2025 with homes and businesses across Middleton-in-Teesdale, Barnard Castle, Gainford, and West Auckland able to access gigabit-capable broadband from as early as late September.
Gigabit-capable networks allow communities to upload and download data with none of the disruptions associated with ageing copper networks. More than 74 per cent of the UK can access gigabit connections – such as full fibre – but these are most common in urban areas.
The Northern Echo is reporting that the Teesdale scheme is part of the UK government’s Project Gigabit, which aims to tackle the digital divide across northern England.
Neil Conaghan, CEO at GoFibre, said: “For years, rural towns across northern England, including Teesdale, have faced a persistent digital connectivity problem, which has left local communities frustrated and very much behind in terms of infrastructure upgrades.
“Through our partnership with the UK government and Durham County Council, construction efforts are now underway to help tackle this digital divide and isolation head on.
“Our new network will equip residents and businesses in these areas with the tools required to drive innovation and success, both now and in decades to come.
“We appreciate your patience during the construction phase and are excited to unveil the benefits of full fibre connectivity to Teesdale later this year.”
Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez added: “Teesdale was one of the first contracts awarded as part of Project Gigabit, our £5bn plan to connect hard-to-reach areas and deliver on the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy.
“Now spades are in the ground, thousands in the region are a big step closer to feeling the benefits of lightning-fast broadband.”
Cllr Susan McDonnell, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for digital, customer services and procurement, said the start of construction is a “fantastic step forward”.
“Not only will it allow for the creation of more opportunities for employment and education, particularly around studying or working from home, it will also help our communities to connect with each other and develop further social opportunities,” said Cllr McDonnell.
Households and businesses in Teesdale can register their interest in GoFibre’s full-fibre broadband services by visiting www.gofibre.co.uk/register.
More information can be viewed by visiting the following link: www.gofibrenetworks.co.uk/teesdale.