Search Ponteland Online Sites


Contribute to Ponteland Online News

Ponteland Online News has a number of contributing authors, all of whom will add their own posts on various aspects of village life, from the housing market to events and public meetings. If you are involved in a business or organisation, be it a school, church or a club in the Ponteland area and would like to contribute to the blog on a regular basis or just from time to time please email Ponteland Online Admin You must put the story title in the email subject line and the story itself in the main body of the email, add any picture attachments and send as normal.

All stories must edited ready to go straight online. Grammar, spellings, use of capital letters and punctuation must be correct for the story to appear.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Northumberland - Connecting Communities through Broadband

Update: February 2012

Welcome to this iNorthumberland update. The purpose of the newsletter is to keep everyone informed about the steps being taken to improve broadband services in Northumberland. Please share this information with your local residents and colleagues.
More details can be found on the iNorthumberland web site

1. The Local Broadband Plan
Broadband and the internet have changed many aspects of our lives. As the speeds of broadband services increases so will the ways in which the internet is used by both the public and private sector.
Superfast broadband speeds have the potential to dramatically change the way in which we do business and deliver many of our public services. It is therefore essential that Northumberland invests in an affordable broadband delivery infrastructure that is capable of keeping pace with these changes in speed. At this time though this represents a enormous major capital investment in the exchanges, cabinets and cabling that currently delivers the broadband services available in Northumberland.

The Government has made some funding available to local authorities to help with broadband service improvements. £7 million has been ‘indicatively’ allocated to Northumberland. This funding will only be released when the Government has approved each authority’s Local Broadband Plan which has to contain a commitment to match the Governments allocation – so Northumberland County Council is proposing to commit £7 million as part of its budget recommendations to be considered later this month.

We have not yet been informed when the Plan will be approved and we are unable to publish it until it is formally approved by the Government.
The final amount we will have to start introducing the improvements Northumberland needs will only be determined when we complete the ‘procurement tendering’ process. This process will invite the providers of commercial broadband services to bid for the contract to deliver the first phase of improvements.
It is hoped that the winning bidder will also invest ‘match funding’ at a level equal to the amounts contributed by the Council and the Government i.e. £14 million. This would provide an initial budget of up to £28 million but it should be emphasised that the level of commercial investment will be determined primarily by their views on potential future revenue levels.

Although (up to) £28 million is an enormous amount of money it is anticipated that it will still not meet the current forecasted costs of providing the levels of improvement Northumberland needs now and in preparation for the future.

Our Local Broadband Plan therefore anticipates a short fall in the level of capital investment needed and calls for an inclusive ‘whole county approach’ to developing solutions to compensate for this shortfall. Consequently, we are planning to work collaboratively with partners and stakeholders across the county through our iNorthumberland programme team – see below – to start to plan these solutions and we will use our regular newsletter and web site to keep you informed of progress.

2. iNorthumberland Programme Team and Programme Board Delivering the improvements in broadband services will be a complex, long term process.
The recruitment of a Programme Team to develop and manage this process has now started. This team will incorporate responsibility for a wide range of tasks which will include the planning and procurement of future solutions, developing bids for additional funding as well as providing information and other support services.
The Programme Director will report to a Programme Board which will be structured to reflect the private, public and voluntary sector as well as the general community. The board will have an independent Chair.

3. How you and the community can help
Everyone can register their interest in improving broadband in Northumberland. They can currently either –
- use the on line registration process on
- complete the iNorthumberland registration cards available in all of our local libraries
This information will be collated and will provide clear evidence to potential broadband service providers of the demand in Northumberland for better broadband services.
The Programme Team (see above) will develop additional methods in the coming months.
We are aware of a number of communities in Northumberland who have developing their own solutions using wireless based broadband or satellite systems. We have case studies of initiatives in other parts of the country where communities are laying their own fibre optic cable to connect to a local exchange or to an independent wireless service.
Please let us know of anyone who is involved in local schemes OR who is interested in developing a local initiative themselves.

4. Rural Community Broadband Fund
The Rural Community Broadband Fund was launched by Defra in November 2012. The £20m Fund targets communities across the whole of the UK who are inside what has been defined as the ‘final 10%’ – i.e. the areas where it is extremely difficult to provide broadband. Northumberland County Council submitted two outline bids to the Fund in January 2012, one to connect the North Tyne (including Kielder) and another to connect Eshott Village and the surrounding parish. The outcome of the bids will be known by mid March 2012. 

For further details please contact Fay Cooper, Senior Project Officer at