Access to superfast broadband is now a requirement of daily life, whether you’re working from home, catching up via Skype with friends on the other side of the world, or simply wanting to binge your favourite show on Netflix.
I know how deeply frustrating it is for some communities across South Northants who aren’t yet seeing the benefits of the County Council’s superfast rollout, particularly if you’re on one of the only streets in the area unable to access the high speeds.
I have been pushing this issue since I was elected, and I am pleased that we have made some considerable progress in the last few years. As a result, coverage in Northamptonshire is expected to reach 97 per cent by the end of 2017 (exceeding the Government's 95 per cent target and reaching Government's 2020 forecast coverage three years early). Plans secured by the County Council to date, when combined with existing and planned commercial coverage, are expected to extend superfast broadband coverage to 98 per cent of all premises by the end of 2018.
Those addresses that fall outside of these plans are being targeted through other measures which are currently being progressed by the County Council. However, as the deployment of these other measures will involve the use of public funding, the County Council is required to undertake another State Aid Public Consultation (SAPC). The purpose of the SAPC is to consult with the telecommunications market (i.e. BT, Gigaclear, Virgin, etc.) to identify if there are new commercial plans.
The SAPC was sent to telecoms suppliers for their review and closed in early December, allowing the County Council to identify the remaining areas in need of a solution. They will then be able to inform local residents of the measures to be taken for the remaining areas, which will include extending delivery through their existing contracts with the public sector investment which has been secured for the project. They are also actively looking to secure further funds to help them extend their contracts. The County Council anticipates being able to provide an update on the outcome of the public consultation and their plans for what they call Stage 3 ‘Other measures’ in January/February 2018.
You can find out more on the County Council’s Superfast Northamptonshire website, but please do get in touch with me if you have a specific broadband problem that I can help you with.