Borough’s superfast broadband ‘on target’

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PLANS to introduce faster broadband to the borough are ahead of schedule, despite reports to the contrary.

Officials at North Tyneside Council say they have been working hard on introducing ‘superfast broadband’, and are set to exceed national targets for delivery by 2015.

The council said it was ‘stunned’ when it was named by the Department for Culture Media and Sport – along with neighbouring authorities of Newcastle, South Tyneside and Sunderland – as being an area ‘of concern’ after slipping behind schedule.

However, a council spokesperson said they had instead been working with BT and not part of the government initiative.

Mayor Linda Arkley has written to Jeremy Hunt MP, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, to outline the council’s position in relation to the Broadband Delivery United Kingdom (BDUK) funding and targets.

The aim of BDUK is to ensure that 90 per cent of people in each local authority area can access a superfast broadband (25Mbps+) ISP service by 2015, with the remaining ten per cent receiving a minimum speed of 2Mbps.

But because North Tyneside has been active in rolling out superfast broadband across the borough through BT’s Next Generation Access (NGA) programme, it will have ensured superfast access across 91 per cent of the borough by 2015 – without government funding.

The remaining nine per cent of the borough – which is mainly areas of protected, open space, and does not largely require superfast broadband – will be covered by a 2Mbps service.

Mrs Arkley said: “I can give a firm commitment to our residents and businesses that we are on target to deliver superfast broadband where it is needed most, by 2015.

“In this instance, given the pressures on resources at the present time, we felt that the benefits of increasing the coverage of superfast broadband across the remaining nine per cent of the borough, would be limited, and therefore a low priority when deciding how best to spend council tax payers’ money.”