A BROADBAND provider has outlined plans to get ultra-fast internet to all rural areas across County Durham.

Openreach has outlined plans to build ultrafast, ultra-reliable Full Fibre broadband to at least three million more homes and businesses – including around 90,000 in County Durham - in some of the UK’s hardest to serve communities.

It means fewer homes and businesses will require taxpayer subsidies to upgrade.

A total of 24 exchanges across the county are being upgraded, with the majority of homes and businesses in places such as Tow Low, Barnard Castle, Lanchester, Meadowfield, Rushyford and Dipton set to benefit from what will be a massive nationwide, five-year feat of civil engineering.

The plans also include an extension to the company’s biggest ever recruitment drive, with a further 1,000 new roles being created in 2021 on top of the 2,500 jobs which were announced in December 2020 – of which around 50 were in the North East.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach’s regional director for the North, said: “Building a new Ultrafast broadband network across the North East is a massive challenge and some parts of the region will inevitably require public funding.

"Our expanded build plan means taxpayer subsidies can be limited to only the hardest to connect homes and businesses. And with investments from other network builders, we’d hope to see that shrink further.

“This is a hugely complex, nationwide engineering project. It will help level-up the UK because the impact of Full Fibre broadband stretches from increased economic prosperity and international competitiveness, to higher employment and environmental benefits.

“We’ll publish further location details and timescales on our website as the detailed surveys and planning are completed and the build progresses.”

Openreach is building Full Fibre faster, at lower cost and higher quality having made the technology available to more than 4.7 million homes and business so far.

With download speeds of 1 Gbps, it’s up to 10 times faster than the average home broadband connection. That means faster game downloads, better quality video calls and higher resolution movie streaming.