Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has welcomed Broadband Minister Matt Warman to Hartlepool to announce that thousands more homes and businesses in Tees Valley are set to benefit from faster and more reliable broadband.
An investment of £3.5m – including £1.2m of public funding from the Tees Valley Combined Authority, led by mayor Houchen, UK Government and a £2.3m contribution from Openreach, the UK’s digital network business – has been made through the Digital Durham broadband programme.
More than 3,000 homes and businesses across Tees Valley will benefit from full fibre, gigabit-capable broadband by the end of June 2021 as a result of the investment.
The £38m Digital Durham programme, led by Durham County Council and Openreach, is a partnership between ten of the 12 authorities in the North East, and the UK Government.
To date the programme has connected more than 110,000 premises across the Digital Durham programme area, including thousands across the Tees Valley.
The rollout has already begun and a number of premises in Stockton have already been upgraded. Many more homes and businesses in the boroughs of Darlington, Hartlepool, Stockton, Middlesbrough, and Redcar and Cleveland are also set to benefit.
Mr Warman said: “The Government is committed to levelling up the whole of the UK with world-class broadband so that everyone can make the best use of new technologies.
“We will create the right opportunities for industry to push ahead with nationwide rollout and invest £5billion so that the hardest-to-reach areas aren’t left behind.
“I’m delighted that further government funding has been allocated to give homes and businesses across Tees Valley faster, gigabit-speed internet that will improve lives and boost the local economy.”
Mayor Houchen said: “Fast, reliable broadband is no longer regarded as something you can live without. People choose to live, work and invest based on how good the internet connection is.
“If we are going to support our innovators, job creators, entrepreneurs and risk-takers then we need to make sure they have access to high speed, reliable internet connections no matter where they are in Teesside, Darlington or Hartlepool. I look forward to seeing the number of households and businesses suffering from poor internet connections in the Tees Valley reduced.”
Robert Thorburn, regional partnership director for Openreach in the North, said: “This is great news and builds on Openreach’s strong track record of bringing faster, more reliable broadband to communities across the North East – both commercially and in partnership with local authorities and the UK Government.
“Commercially our full fibre build programme is going great guns and we’re now building at around 26,000 premises a week – reaching a new home or business every 23 seconds. Our focus is not just in cities and urban areas – we intend to build a significant portion of our full-fibre network in harder to reach areas and locally have already announced that Crook and Howden le Wear will benefit from our full fibre roll-out.”
In addition to the Tees Valley rollout, Digital Durham is also carrying out a procurement exercise to potentially contract for better connectivity across other authorities in the partnership meaning that across the area, many more businesses and residences could be set to benefit from better connectivity in the future.