High speed broadband comes to Durham's Medieval market place

The Northern Echo: DIGITAL DURHAM: Partnership to bring high speed broadband to County Durham DIGITAL DURHAM: Partnership to bring high speed broadband to County Durham

A MEDIEVAL market place has been hooked up to 21st Century high-speed broadband technology.

More than 130 homes and businesses in the centre of Durham City were today (TUES) connected to high-speed fibre broadband, six months ahead of schedule.

The city centre is the first location to benefit from the £24m Digital Durham project, designed to bring super-fast broadband to communities across County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland and Tees Valley.

Within the next six months, more than 8,500 homes across County Durham will also be connected, bringing minimum broadband speeds of 2Mbps In April, eight local authorities including Durham County Council agreed a deal with BT to extend high-speed fibre broadband to around 94 per cent of premises by the end of 2016.

Communications minister Ed Vaizey welcomed the news, saying: "Today’s announcement is a welcome early Christmas present for Durham.

"The first homes and businesses to benefit from the Government’s nationwide rollout of superfast broadband are doing so six months ahead of schedule, and access to faster speeds can make a tremendous difference to the local economy."

Under the deal, BT will invest £5.9m in paying for the roll-out, backed by £9.1m from the Government and a similar sum from the local councils.

Coun Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: "The Digital Durham programme is fundamental to the future of County Durham.

"Modern communications, including effective broadband is key if we are to have a thriving city, vibrant towns, successful people and sustainable communities".

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access with BT, added: "Rolling out fibre is a big job – it’s not a question of simply throwing a switch, so the fact that fibre has arrived six months early in Durham is testament to the skill and hard work of the engineering teams on the ground and demonstrates our commitment to getting Durham superfast, superfast".

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