Background and Targets

The Superfast Northamptonshire project is led by Northamptonshire County Council and is part of the Government's Superfast Britain programme.  The project is promoting and securing investment in "next generation access" (NGA) pure fibre and fibre based broadband infrastructure which is capable of at least supporting superfast broadband services and in some cases ultrafast.

You can find out more about NGA and the definition of superfast and ultrafast broadband in the FAQs. It aims to facilitate and complement existing and planned commercial coverage provided by the telecoms market. 

Back in 2011, the County Council set an ambitious target of full superfast broadband coverage by the end of 2017. This compares to the Government's more recent policy objective of 95% coverage by the end of 2017.  The Government also predicts that superfast coverage could reach 97% nationally by 2020. The County Council's local target has been a key driver for securing public funding to increase coverage. 

As a result, Northamptonshire is well ahead of the national trend with coverage expected to reach 97% by the end of 2017 (exceeding the Government's 95% 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% of all premises by the end of 2018. 

However, there is still more to do.  Other Stage 3 initiatives will be brought forward to increase coverage even further.  The first of these will be announced later in 2017.

You can keep up to date on project progress on the Progress Overview page.

Enhanced connectivity is already essential to how we live, learn and access services, making the basic day to day activities of modern life easier and quicker for all ages in society. It is also critical for business growth and innovation. Widespread superfast broadband is central to the success of the County Council's ambition to see Northamptonshire at the leading edge of the global digital economy and for the future economic prosperity of the county.

Superfast Speeds- Copper Vs SFB.jpg
 Broadband networks are normally built by private sector telecoms companies. We currently expect over 70% of all premises in Northamptonshire to be served commercially.  Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use these networks to provide broadband services which customers (residents and businesses) can choose to buy. Some network providers are also ISPs.

Telecoms providers will normally deliver broadband only in areas where it is commercially viable for them to do so i.e. where they can make a return or profit on their investment.  This means that some areas would be unlikely ever to benefit. The Superfast Northamptonshire project is focused on securing solutions for these areas. This is where public sector funding is needed to ensure that broadband infrastructure is delivered. There are Regulations which govern how public funding (State aid) can be invested.

The Superfast Northamptonshire project involves a civil engineering undertaking of some considerable scale.  Many hundreds of miles of fibre optic cable will be laid as part of the network build.  In the project's lifetime, public investment could help to bring superfast broadband to as many as 90,000 homes and businesses across the county. The project also involves measures to stimulate demand for the take up of fibre broadband services.  This includes raising awareness about the benefits this can bring, particularly for business growth and success but also at home, and for accessing County Council and other public services such as healthcare and learning. 

The Superfast Northamptonshire project is coming forward in stages as resources and delivery solutions are secured. This is part of the national Superfast Britain programme led by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) for the Department of Culture Media and Sport.

​The County Council's and Government's targets are set out below

Year ​Superfast Northamptonshire Target​Government
​By end 2015
90% of premises in the county should have access to superfast broadband (>24Mbps)
By early 2016

​90% of premises in the UK should have access to superfast broadband
End 2017
​97% of premises in the county should have access to superfast broadband (>24Mbps)
Plans* secured which are expected to reach 97% of premises
​95% of premises in the UK should have access to superfast broadband
​2018Planned* coverage expected to reach 98% of premises (other Stage 3 measures will extend this further)​​99% superfast coverage (recognising need for wider mix of technologies)
​2020​BDUK estimate that superast coverage could reach 97% nationally by 2020 in the absence of any new programmes

* Involves plans secured through Superfast Northamptonshire with BT and Gigaclear, when combined with expected exisiting and planned commercial coverage.

In addition to the superfast broadband targets, there is also a commitment to see basic broadband services of at least 2Mbps available to all premises.  A Better Broadband subsidy scheme was launched by the County Council in December 2015 as part of a national programme.  This provides people who are suffering the lowest broadband speeds in the county (below 2Mbps) with the opportunity to take up faster services offered by a range of providers which have registered to participate in the Scheme.

The scheme is expected to run until December 2018.

A key focus of the project involves working with key stakeholders to help manage the dependencies which could impact deliverability.  This includes:

  • The facilitation of commercial plans where appropriate.  We currently expect that existing and planned commercial coverage should provide for over 70% of all premises in the county, but these plans can be subject to change over time.  The County Council continues to work with telecommunications providers already active locally, as well as others, to promote Northamptonshire as a great place for investment to encourage further commercial coverage. This in turn will help to provide wider choice and competition and support innovation.
  • The continued availability of public funding to invest in solutions where needed (the County Council has secured a commitment of over £22m in public investment to date);
  • The technology and wider capability of the telecoms sector to deliver in the harder to reach areas. BDUK has undertaken Market Test Pilots to explore some of the challenges; and
  • The importance of local planning authorities and developers working with telecommunication providers at the outset to ensure that new properties have access to NGA speeds.

Alongside the physical broadband network build, a programme of demand stimulation is being progressed, working with NCALC and parish councils, district and borough councils, business umbrella groups and others stakeholders. This is to drive the take-up of superfast broadband and to help people understand how they can use it to benefit their business or home lives.  This includes a range of quite targeted measures in areas where fibre broadband is now available such as stickers on cabinets when they go live, promotional postcards, and posters for parish council notice boards and public places.  It also includes more generic widespread communications about project progress and the benefits that taking up superfast broadband can bring, particularly for business.  You can hear from businesses directly about their experiences and the benefits of superfast broadband in our 'For Business section' here.  Information is also provided through regular newsletters, tweets @SFastNorthants and subscriber news via E-News as well as regular updates to the project website where you'll find a wealth of information. 

This work is proving highly effective as Northamptonshire was ranked 3rd out of the 44 BDUK projects nationally for take up performance in September 2016. 

Our Demand Stimulation Strategy seeks to complement and add-value to the activities of others. 

© 2015 Superfast Northamptonshire