The government has announced the successful bids for a £10 million innovation fund designed to explore ways to deliver superfast broadband to the most remote and hardest to reach places in the UK.
Eight different projects using a range of technologies have been shortlisted to progress to the feasibility stage, ahead of deployment later this year.
In Northumberland, awarded £450,000, it has been proposed that superfast broadband access could be achieved by using a social investment-type model to fund fibre-to-the-premises and wireless-based connections.
The government wants superfast broadband to reach 95 percent of the UK by 2017. It is now exploring ways to reach those premises in the final five per cent.
The other pilots will explore how to expand coverage in remote areas, using fixed wireless and satellite technologies and an operating model which aggregates small rural networks.
Rural affairs minister Dan Rogerson said: “It is critical that we explore how to get superfast broadband out to these hard to reach areas to allow business to be more productive, innovative and competitive, which is crucial for building a stronger rural economy and fairer society.”
Countryside Alliance head of policy Sarah Lee said: “This is very welcome news and a great stride forward in the drive to improve rural connectivity.”
Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith said: “Local people and the business community regularly talk to me about the problems they have in getting reliable broadband services. Improving our broadband infrastructure is critical to the competitiveness of the economy as a whole and is crucial for growth in rural areas such as ours. Superfast broadband is urgently needed to enable small businesses to survive and grow.”