Northumberland gets £1.5m wireless broadband network

Tuesday, June 28th 2011
County council funding has helped to deploy the infrastructure, which will serve 18 towns and villages in the area.
Northumberland gets £1.5m wireless broadband network
New wireless broadband infrastructure has been rolled out in Northumberland thanks to £1.5 million of investment from the county council.

According to tech news provider Computing, the local authority spent the money on the deployment of a wireless mesh that serves 14,000 staff at schools, libraries and businesses in 18 local towns and villages.

The infrastructure has replaced a leased line service from BT and will help to save hundreds of thousands of pounds over the long term, Northumberland County Council (NCC) explained.

As well as reducing its outgoings with the rollout, the administration has used the technology to bring broadband access to Allendale, a remote town located around ten miles south-west of Hexham.

If it can gain access to additional funding, the council is keen to deploy the service in other rural areas across the county that would otherwise be left without broadband.

Frank Freeman, manager of the project at NCC, said the wireless network utilises fibre optic cables and has a point of presence in each of the 18 communities.

"We use Cisco routers and switches in each of the exchanges and then run fibre from those exchanges to the council buildings and other strategic areas," he explained.

"At each of these points we put a gateway, which then provides fully resilient access to broadband. If one of the gateways goes down, it will be taken up by another."

This in turn means it is "unlikely" the network will suffer any downtime, Mr Freeman added.

The news is a welcome boost for the county's communications infrastructure, coming shortly after Hexham MP Guy Opperman slammed the council for failing to lodge a bid with Broadband Delivery UK for government financial support.

Mr Opperman said the decision not to submit the application and instead continue working on it until later this year was "beyond incompetence", the Journal reported.

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