Skip to the content

Northumberland agrees £22 million infrastructure contract with Commsworld


Mark Say Managing Editor

Get UKAuthority News


Broadband cables
Image source:

Northumberland County Council has awarded network provider Commsworld a £22 million contract to upgrade the county’s digital infrastructure for the next 20 years.

It involves replacing the council’s ageing wide area network (WAN) with a full fibre infrastructure that will also provide businesses and communities, including in rural areas, with access to faster connectivity.

Commsworld will deliver 262km of fibre to nearly 150 council sites, and give more than 120,000 residential and business properties access to fibre to the premises (FTTP) connections.

The infrastructure will be linked to the company’s Optical Core Network (OCN), in which it has invested £10 million around the UK. 

The OCN will act as the spine from which wholesale fibre broadband providers can branch out into towns and rural areas of Northumberland at reduced rates and offer digital connectivity of up to 1Gbps.

The company said it will also future proof Northumberland’s digital backbone by building and migrating services on to the new dark fibre infrastructure, such as utilising the network funded by the Government’s Project Gigabit to support the county’s schools. These schools, and others where possible, will be migrated on to the new WAN to provide further resilience and support digital learning. 

Partnership working

The contract will also involve Commsworld working in partnership with the iNorthumberland team at the council, Community Action Northumberland and the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) to tackle digital poverty and build digital skills in communities.

Cllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “This long term approach marks a new and historic way forward for the council and its positive impact cannot be underestimated.

“We are one of the first rural counties in England to focus on changing the lives of our communities by not only providing the infrastructure to give them ground breaking access to full fibre broadband, but future proofing the system so it can adapt and grow according to the needs of everyone who lives and works in Northumberland.

“Above all, it will directly tackle digital exclusion, especially for those in our rural areas. Equality of access is vital if we want to improve the lives of all our citizens. Providing access to significantly enhanced internet connections will go a very long way to bridging this digital divide and benefit all our schoolchildren, parents and families, as well as our businesses and organisations.”

Bruce Strang, chief operating officer of Commsworld, said: “This is our first major contract of this kind in England, having similarly delivered massively enhanced infrastructure to local authorities in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire and the Scottish Borders.”

Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.