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.
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.