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Young entrepreneur helps bring high-speed broadband to rural Northumberland

AIRNEXUS (formerly DANECO), run by Paul Smith, will support the efforts of the iNorthumberland programme in bringing 100% coverage to Stocksfield and Broomhaugh

A stretch of rural Northumberland will receive 100% broadband coverage following the intervention of a local tech company run by a young entrepreneur.

Young Entrepreneur
Stocksfield and Broomhaugh are celebrating after learning the area will receive 100% broadband coverage. Paul Smith, MD of DANECO is far left

The Whittonstall-based DANECO, which also trades as airNexus, has come forward with a commercial plan to deploy superfast broadband services around Stocksfield and Broomhaugh within the next year.

The move follows a consultation exercise carried out by the iNorthumberland project in the hardest-to-reach rural communities, with DANECO responding to an invitation to all broadband suppliers to declare their existing or planned coverage as a series of postcodes.

Assurance activity has been carried out by Northumberland County Council and the Government on the information received from the business, which has been accepted by BDUK on to the Better Broadband Scheme as an official government supplier.

Through the main iNorthumberland programme – backed by funding from council, central Government and the EU – BT has already upgraded Stocksfield, Mickley and Riding Mill to a superfast service and, in the coming 12 months, will add New Ridley Village to the list.

Combined, these efforts will enable 100% coverage of Stocksfield and Broomhaugh within the next year – and as DANECO and its investors will finance its work, there will be no cost to taxpayers.

County Councillor for Stocksfield and Broomhaugh, Anne Dale, who has been working closely with residents and businesses to identify connectivity needs, said: “I’m delighted we have been able to secure complete superfast broadband coverage for our rural communities.

“I’ve been working hard over the past two years to establish and document the demand for faster internet services here and the fact we have been able to secure a solution from a local business is an extra bonus.

“A number of companies were interested in this opportunity and after the supplier event we held we had five express an interest in providing connectivity to the area.

“Ultimately it was DANECO, a local company, who came forward with a commercial investment option.

“We now intend to sign a Partnership Agreement with DANECO to allow them to use the iNorthumberland brand and support them with areas like marketing, engagement, planning and highways.

“This is a great example of the council working closely with local businesses for the benefit of residents, businesses and the local economy.”

Paul Smith, managing director of DANECO said: “As a young, local entrepreneur, it is an extremely rewarding opportunity to build and deliver a carrier class network into some of Northumberland’s most rural and sparsely populated communities.

“For many, high­speed broadband is now considered ‘the fourth utility’ and I am delighted that we have been approved by central and local Government to continue expanding our infrastructure.

“Given the nature of the local land, it was decided that a microwave solution would be the most effective in terms of reliability, speed and time to market.

“Unlike larger carriers, we enjoy an old fashioned approach to customer service and like the local butchers or greengrocers of yesteryear, are very much active constituents of the communities we serve.”

Among the businesses set to benefit is the Stocksfield­-based training organisation Release Potential.

Hugh Hutchinson from the firm said: “In order for a rural company like Release Potential to continue to compete with inner city organisations and continue to secure local jobs, an effective superfast broadband Internet link is essential.

“A superfast broadband Internet link will vastly improve our productivity and allow Release Potential to complete its commitment to become a paperless environmentally conscious business.”

Councillor Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council stressed that effective broadband was crucial for both residents and businesses.

“Through the iNorthumberland programme we have already delivered or have plans to deliver superfast broadband to the vast majority of properties, and we’re now looking at those homes and businesses outside of the current plans,” he said.

The iNorthumberland project is being delivered by the authority, with funding from the Department for Culture Media and Sport via BDUK, European Regional Development Fund and Defra’s Rural Community Broadband Fund.

Source: The Chronicle –