Many areas of Gateshead have access to superfast broadband internet and a wide variety of digital services. However, some areas still suffer from slow speeds that limit residents to only the most basic of internet tasks.
The Better Broadband in Gateshead Project aims to make sure that all homes and businesses in Gateshead can get access to faster broadband. Superfast internet access will help improve the lives of Gateshead residents and boost our local economy.
Working in partnership with our neighbours, Durham County Council, we have secured funding from Broadband Delivery UK (part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport) to ensure that at least 95% of premises can obtain superfast broadband at speeds above 24Mbps.
The funding will be used to improve and upgrade the network infrastructure in those areas that currently suffer from slow speeds. A contract to carry out this work was awarded to BT in April 2013 and the planning and surveying work is now well underway.
In Gateshead we are aiming to push fibre-based broadband as far as possible with the funding we have, however, for the estimated 5% of premises that will remain beyond the fibre footprint, alternative technologies will be used such as advanced copper technologies to boost speeds and everyone will be able to get at least 2Mbps. The council is continuing to seek further opportunities to obtain more funding so that as many premises as possible will be able to get fibre-based broadband.
Broadband deployment plan
The broadband deployment plan provides an overview of the fibre infrastructure rollout. The biggest question for those without fibre broadband is 'when will I get it?' Telephone exchanges across the region will be upgraded over nine phases. You can find out which exchange your property connects to by entering your postcode into this exchange search.
Once you know which exchange you connect to you can refer to the deployment plan (updated April 2014) for details on which phase your exchange will be upgraded in.
Some areas are not part of the broadband deployment plan as they already have access to superfast broadband services or future commercial rollout is planned. To check whether your property has access to existing Virgin Media broadband services you can check availability here - Virgin Media Broadband Services and you can check whether your property is part of BT’s commercial rollout here – BT commercial rollout
It's not always straightforward
We aren't able to tell you exactly when your premise will be upgraded for a number of reasons:
Some underground ducts will have been buried for years, so it's no surprise that surveys can sometimes unearth a few unanticipated challenges. Often ducts have collapsed or been damaged over the years; or the duct routes themselves may be full of existing cables or new ducts need to be built where they don't already exist. Obviously any problems have to be sorted out before any fibre can be laid to these ducts.
The majority of mains and back up power supplies in exchanges will need to be upgraded, as the new equipment will place significant demands on them. Sometimes this means working with a local power company and co-ordinating what's needed.
The same can be said for each individual street cabinet as an additional unit (known as a DSLAM) also has power requirements.
Highway, planning and way-leave applications also need to be considered, and can sometimes delay work relating to a specific cabinet.
Broadband services to your property and those around you will run from a cabinet located fairly close by. Ofcom rules specify that cabinet level information cannot be made available until two weeks after a cabinet has been made live; and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been notified by BT that they are able to supply broadband services to prospective customers from it.
And finally, we have to contend with the British weather. If it gets too cold (below 3oC) it can create problems laying the concrete plinth for the cabinet to stand on.
How has the deployment plan been devised?
The deployment plan has taken into consideration:
Best value for money and where we can get the most coverage for the funding available.
Existing BT Openreach infrastructure and their planned commercial rollout.
Areas of greatest potential demand.
A reasonable spread of work across each of the eight councils involved in the programme.
See how it's built
To find out what is involved in the rollout of Superfast broadband you can view the Openreach video here.This provides information about the different technologies, how the rollout is planned and what's involved in upgrading a huge part of the UK's infrastructure.