Plans for ‘superfast’ broadband with no ‘black spots’ in Northamptonshire by 2017

The county council aims to get superfast broadband to all.
The county council aims to get superfast broadband to all.

County Hall bosses have launched a plan to help roll-out superfast broadband across Northamptonshire and ensure there are no communication black spots by 2017.

As part of the plan, called the Next Generation Strategy, Northamptonshire County Council will talk to private firms, including BT, Virgin Media, and others companies inside the telecoms market.

They will also speak to communities in hard to reach areas to ensure every part of the county benefits from a superfast internet connection.

The council’s new plan aims to ensure more than 34,000 premises are not left behind.

The authority has already launched a partnership with BT to roll-out superfast broadband to around 90 per cent of the county by 2015.

However, in some areas, the cost of laying infrastructure is not “profitable” and the council says without public sector intervention key areas may not get access to crucial broadband services.

Those area includes parts of the town centres of Northampton, Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough, as well as parts of the Enterprise Zone in Northampton, on top of rural and remote areas in the county.

The new strategy sets out an approach to support a “full coverage target”.

Councillor Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection, said: “I firmly believe that access to superfast broadband is essential to future growth because of its capacity to transform business enterprise and trade, and its increasing importance for access to learning, delivering public services, and how we live our lives.

“Although we have aspirations for the deployment of fibre-based broadband infrastructure we’re very open minded about what sort of solutions will be used.

“This sector of the economy is developing extremely rapidly so we can’t be too prescriptive – we just need to ensure the solutions are ‘future proof’.

“Our approach is about working with the market to address the barriers which make a commercial roll out unviable and incentivising investment in Northamptonshire.”

The county council says the Next Generation Strategy could be the first of its kind in the country and “supports Northamptonshire’s vision to be at the leading edge of the digital economy”.

The strategy promotes a ‘fibre first’ approach to the roll-out of superfast broadband networks which should be capable of supporting access line speeds of at least 30Mbps.

However, alternative strategies will also be looked into.