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 as many homes and businesses in Gateshead as possible 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 almost 99% of premises will be able to receive a fibre optic based broadband service.
The funding will be used to improve and upgrade the network infrastructure in those areas that currently suffer from slow speeds.
In Gateshead we are aiming to push fibre-based broadband as far as possible with the funding we have and are continuing to seek further opportunities to obtain more funding so that as many premises as possible will be able to get fibre-based broadband.
In February 2015 Virgin Media announced plans to invest £3 billion to extend coverage of their network to another 4 million homes and businesses in the UK providing broadband speeds of 152Mbps. If you live in an area where Virgin Media cable services are not currently available you can register your interest on their website.
Where and when
The most frequent question we get asked is “when will I get fibre broadband?”
Use the Openreach postcode checker to confirm if your area can get fibre based broadband now, or the status of your area if fibre is not yet available.
Once available, fibre based broadband can be purchased from a range of internet service providers. It may be more affordable than you think. Broadband comparison sites can often help you find the best deals.
Getting a basic broadband service
Following the Government’s commitment to provide access to a minimum of 2Mbps download speeds to all premises, a satellite broadband subsidy scheme has been launched to help eligible residents. The scheme is available to premises with basic broadband (ADSL) download speeds of 2Mbps or less, and are not included in any current fibre broadband plans.
The scheme allows residents to apply for up to £350 towards the hardware and installation costs to get connected to satellite broadband. Eligible residents will still be required to pay any subsequent costs such as the monthly service charge.
Further information on the scheme including details of how to apply can be found on the Digital Durham website.
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 nine councils involved in the programme.