Pioneering communications technology is being used to bring faster broadband to a picturesque village in County Durham
Around 180 homes and businesses in Shincliffe Village are now able to enjoy some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK following the switching on of an innovative ‘all-in-one’ fibre broadband cabinet. Normally two cabinets are needed to bring fibre broadband to an area – the existing road-side cabinet that supplies telephone services and a new one for the fibre technology. By combining all the technology into the ‘onesie’ cabinet the amount of street furniture is reduced – ideal in certain areas of natural beauty, where there are conservation restrictions as well as to overcome certain technical issues.
Cllr Jane Brown, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for corporate services, welcomed the news.
She said: “This is fantastic news for residents and business owners in Shincliffe Village who will now be able to take advantage of faster internet speeds and all the benefits this brings both at home and in the workplace.
“It is also pleasing to see that the village is benefitting from a relatively new technology specifically developed to bring faster broadband to locations where the standard roll-out methods are not suitable. We look forward to seeing this technology used in other areas where possible.”
One resident looking forward to getting online superfast is Daniel Roe, who runs his company Concision.co.uk, writing and editing web content, sales materials and articles for businesses, from his home in the village.
Daniel, who launched the family run start-up in June last year, said that knowing fibre was coming to Shincliffe Village was a significant factor in deciding to move to the area.
He said: “We decided to move to Shincliffe Village only after we realised there was going to be fibre broadband available. Having fibre will make a huge difference to the business. We have clients all over the world so our primary contact with them is online. We rely on VoIP services like Skype to communicate with them. We also use online multi-media presentations to show them work we are doing or to pitch to new clients – at the moment we struggle to do it over our current broadband. We also need fast access to online material that we are constantly researching and reviewing for customers.
“It will make us a lot more flexible and agile and able to respond a lot quicker, which means quicker turnarounds on projects which in turn means more satisfied clients and ultimately more business.”
Thousands of homes and businesses in the nearby communities of High Shincliffe, Bowburn and Coxhoe have also been connected to the fibre network, with further upgrades planned in the coming months due to the huge demand for fibre services.
More than 95,000 households and businesses are now able to connect to faster, fibre broadband thanks to the Digital Durham programme. On average, engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, are switching on 22 new street cabinets and making the new fibre network available to around 4,700 more premises every month.
Simon Roberson, BT regional partnership director for the North East, said: “Rolling out fibre broadband on this scale is no mean feat. Sometimes we have do things differently in order to overcome technical issues or challenging geographies. This was one of those times. When our primary roll-out solution did not work in this part of Shincliffe Village, we had to identify a different solution. The ‘onesie’ was the perfect solution and people are already embracing the new technology.”
Fibre broadband at home means everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in a few minutes; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. Fibre improves the quality of online experiences and supports new developments in internet services.
Benefits for businesses include faster file and data transfers, better access to cloud computing services and software, more sophisticated web-based contact with customers and support for more flexible working.
It’s an ‘opt in’ service, but because the Openreach network is ‘open’, residents and businesses wanting to upgrade have a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 companies now operating across the UK.
The Digital Durham broadband programme is delivered by Durham County Council and BT. In total, £34 million has been invested by BT, Durham County Council, Government funding from Building Digital UK (BDUK) and public sector partners in Gateshead, Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and the Tees Valley.
A second phase of fibre deployment is already planned to begin in July 2016. This will see a further £9 million invested in the programme area. It includes £2.82 million from the Government’s Superfast Extension Plan and £4 million from BT, with the remaining investment split between the local authority partners. An additional 29,000 homes and businesses will benefit as a result. By the end of the roll-out, 97 per cent of premises within the programme area will have access to fibre broadband.
For more information about the Digital Durham programme please visit www.digitaldurham.org