Superfast broadband zooms up North

Newcastle has marked a key milestone in the city’€™s superfast broadband roll-out by launching the first fibre cabinet, as part of Go Digital

Pupils from Walker Technology College were on hand to add a dash of superpower to the occasion as they officially unveiled the new fibre cabinet serving Wyedale Way in Walker, which will enable residents to enjoy broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps and transform the way they can use the internet. 

Nearby residents will be among the first to benefit from the latest fibre optic technology as a direct result of the programme – as their green street cabinet was hooked up to the fibre network by Openreach, BT’s local network business. 

In total around 1,400 homes and businesses in Walker, Byker, Cochrane Park, Manor Park, Elswick, South Benwell and Fenham will be upgraded to high speed broadband over the next few weeks, in what is the first phase of the multi-million pound programme.

Cllr Ged Bell, cabinet member for Investment and Development for Newcastle City Council, said: “We’re improving superfast broadband availability across the city in six phases between now and next Summer, with this cabinet here in Walker among the first to go live. 

“This first phase of the project will make it available to around 1,400 premises in the city over the coming weeks, and local people who choose to sign up to a superfast package will find huge benefits.

“For instance, they’ll be able to stream high-definition movies and music far quicker, access public services more easily and video chat with family and friends around the world on Skype.”

The Go Digital Newcastle programme is run by Newcastle City Council with government funding from Broadband Delivery UK and a £1.89 million investment by BT. It will make Newcastle one of the best-connected cities in the UK.         

The programme will build on BT’s commercial investment which has already brought fibre broadband to many locations including central Newcastle, West Newcastle, Gosforth, Jesmond, Lemington and Wideopen.

By the end of summer 2015 fibre broadband will be available to 97% of the city. 

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, said: “We understand how important access to superfast broadband is – the UK already does more business online than any other European country, and the widespread access to superfast broadband that this scheme will deliver will provide a tremendous boost to the Newcastle economy.”

As part of Go Digital Newcastle, small and medium businesses in the city as well as charities and social enterprises can apply for a voucher worth up to £3,000 to get connected to improved broadband.

They can also apply for funding of up to £2,000 for equipment, and for free expert business support to help them make the most of the new connections. More information can be found on the website.