The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) has confirmed its intentions to bid for central government funding under the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Full Fibre Programme.
The bid, if successful, will help the regional authority with up to £12m of funding to boost digital connectivity across rural communities in the North of Tyne region.
It will enable NTCA to roll out fibre internet connections to public buildings in Northumberland as part of a larger programme of work in North Tyneside and Newcastle. The initiative is expected to boost the speed and reliability of digital connections.
The NTCA cabinet has given a unanimous approval to reconfirm its support for the joint bid.
North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “Providing this level of infrastructure to public buildings in our harder-to-reach areas will put the North of Tyne at the cutting edge of digital connectivity.
“Delivering this project would open up further opportunities to attract private investment to connect homes and business to really unlock the potential of the region.”
NTCA said that the investment from the central government is planned to be made into the rural areas which otherwise struggle to get this kind of funding.
North of Tyne business competitiveness cabinet member and Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said: “The North of Tyne region already boasts one of the fastest-growing technology sectors outside London and this is an amazing opportunity to expand that into the area’s more rural districts.
“Right from the start of the North of Tyne’s journey, improving connectivity was one of the six priorities we established, and I’m delighted we’ve been able to reaffirm that commitment.
“The Full Fibre Programme, together with private sector investment like the North-Atlantic loop, Stellium data centre and fibre loop in Newcastle city centre will ensure the North of Tyne area is at forefront of digital connectivity in the UK.”
In May 2019, the DCMS said that it started the rollout of £200m of full-fibre broadband under the Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme with 31 schools in rural areas being the first beneficiaries.
The UK government has initially prioritised sites in Cornwall, Northumberland, Cumbria and Pembrokeshire for the two-year programme with more locations in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the rest of England to be announced in the near future.