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Homes and businesses in Upper Weardale to get fastest broadband speeds in the UK

Press release   •   Mar 27, 2018 13:56 BST

Alan Patrickson Head of Digital Customer Services at Durham County council (DCC), Openreach's Derek Richardson and DCC Councillor Joy Allen

Homes and businesses in Eastgate village have been upgraded to ultrafast, fibre broadband, thanks to the multi-million pound Digital Durham programme.

Around 65 homes and businesses in the village can now place an order for the technology, which is capable of ultrafast speeds up to one Gigabit per second (1Gbps), thanks to the programme led by Durham County Council.

Eastgate is the first community in Upper Weardale to benefit from ultrafast speeds, with around 145 premises in Tow Law, Crook, Thornley and Lanchester, upgraded earlier in the roll-out.

Communities have been connected up using Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology – where fibre optic cables are run all the way to people’s homes, providing a more reliable network and enough speed to stream 200 HD movies simultaneously.

More than 3,500 premises across Upper Weardale can now upgrade to fibre-based broadband rolled out by engineers from Openreach, the business responsible for Britain’s largest phone and broadband network. Locations include parts of Cowshill, Frosterley, Rookhope, Stanhope, St John’s Chapel, Wearhead, Westgate and Wolsingham.

A further 460 premises are set to follow in Witton Park, Fir Tree, Stanhope and Satley village, with work underway to provide access through a range of fibre-based technologies.

Welcoming the news, Cllr Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for transformation, said: “With an ever increasing number of services delivered to us online, whether designed to support the local economy, entertain, educate or meet our daily needs, comes the necessity for faster broadband speeds. It is wonderful that more residents and businesses have the opportunity to benefit, particularly given the challenges that delivering the technology to rural areas can bring. The programme will continue, and we are committed to making superfast broadband available to as many people as we can using the funding we have.”

In total, more than 72,000 County Durham homes and businesses can now access fibre-based broadbandrolled out as part of theDigital Durham programme. Nearly half of those who can, have chosen to upgrade to fibre-based broadband, but that still leaves many people in the slow lane, who could be benefitting from faster speeds.

Derek Richardson, Openreach programme director for the North East, said: “Reaching very rural communities can be a real challenge. Frequently it requires innovative engineering and increasingly the use of Fibre to the Premises technology in communities unsuitable for the standard roll-out approach.

“However, we continue to make great progress and are determined to keep pushing further and further out to the most remote corners of the county so that they too can enjoy the benefits of faster broadband speeds.”

In total, £34 million has been invested in Digital Durham by BT Group, Durham County Council, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme and public sector partners in Gateshead, Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Tees Valley.[1]

The second phase of the programme is well under way and by the end of the roll-out 98 per cent of County Durham will have access to fibre-based broadband.

For more information about the Digital Durham programme please visit

[1] Tees Valley includes Darlington Borough Council, Hartlepool Borough Council, Middlesbrough Council, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.

About Openreach

Openreach is Britain’s digital network business.

We’re 30,400 people who connect homes, mobile phone masts, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, broadcasters, governments and businesses - large and small - to the world.

Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in Britain can be connected.

We work on behalf of more than 590 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and BT, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more 27 million premises. We’re also the platform for Britain’s thriving digital economy, which is the largest in the G20.

We’re working hard to give people the speeds they need to run and enjoy their daily lives. Over the last decade, we’ve invested more than £11 billion into our network and we now manage more than 160 million kilometres of cable stretching from Scotland to Cornwall, from Wales to the east coast. And we’re continuing to take that network further - making superfast broadband speeds available to thousands more homes and businesses every week.

Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group, and it is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of our revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom.

Any company can access our products under exactly the same prices, terms and conditions.

For the year ended 31 March 2017, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

For more information,