Sunderland set to become superfast broadband city
Thursday 16th August 2012, by Simon White
Every home in Sunderland is expected to have access to superfast broadband deals.
This is according to the city's council, with a representative from the authority telling the Sunderland Echo that commitments to private sector contracts means the area is on track to boast the improved services.
The government was hoping to develop a high-speed network by 2015, though these plans look to have been delayed.
However, Sunderland City Councillor Paul Watson told the news provider that he is confident that superfast speeds will be available to over 99 per cent of households by the end of the year, even though the city currently only has 55 per cent coverage of the services.
Exchanges in East Herrington, Houghton, Hetton and Fencehouses have been enabled by BT, while work is also nearly complete in the Sunderland North and Washington regions.
As a result, around 43,280 residential properties will gain superfast access, along with around 2,000 businesses.
Mr Watson told the news provider: "This connectivity has been achieved through working with our partners in the private sector, and Sunderland City Council’s proven experience in creating the right environment to attract private investment around IT infrastructure and support networks.
"This successful approach means that we are not dependent on funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport or affected by any delays in the government procurement process."
BT's managing director of next generation access Bill Murphy has also commended Sunderland's efforts, explaining that the council's vision and ambition has created the "right environment" for the broadband provider to invest in its infrastructure.
Although Sunderland is making progress with its plans, the Country Land and Business Association has warned that the government's objective of delivering speeds of at least 24Mbps to 90 per cent of rural areas by 2015 may not be reached.
The CLA is concerned that a slow funding progress coupled with an over-reliance on fibre-optic networks has led to a rural/urban digital divide.
The group's president Harry Cotterell also explained that Broadband Delivery UK's allocation of £530 million for broadband funding is "too low".