A Scottish-headquartered broadband firm is reaching across the border to bring gigabit-capable internet speeds to rural properties in the north of England.

More than 4,000 homes and businesses in Teesdale – in the North Pennines – will benefit from full fibre connectivity after construction was commenced by GoFibre.

The company, which was started in the Scottish Borders town of Duns in 2017, as Borderlink Broadband, will connect the premises under the UK Government’s Project Gigabit scheme.

The firm was awarded the £6.6m contract in Autumn and has spent the last six months planning and surveying for the build alongside the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Durham County Council. 

Construction will take place until 2025 with homes and businesses across Middleton-in-Teesdale, Barnard Castle, Gainford, West Auckland and neighbouring communities able to access gigabit-capable broadband from as early as late September.  

Gigabit-capable networks allow communities to upload and download data with none of the disruptions associated with ageing copper networks.

More than 74 per cent of the UK can access gigabit connections – such as full fibre – but these are most common in urban areas which is why the government is investing £5bn to connect hard-to-reach places that might otherwise miss out. 

The implementation of GoFibre’s network in rural Teesdale will help to tackle the digital divide across northern England, providing world-class digital connectivity.

With the new network in place, local residents will have access to up to 10Gbps speeds which will significantly enhance their ability to work from home efficiently, utilise multiple devices without lag, and quickly download entire box sets and large files in seconds. 

Neil Conaghan, CEO of GoFibre, said: “For years, rural towns across northern England, including Teesdale, have faced a persistent digital connectivity problem, which has left local communities frustrated and very much behind in terms of infrastructure upgrades.  

“Through our partnership with the UK government and Durham County Council, construction efforts are now underway to help tackle this digital divide and isolation head on. Our new network will equip residents and businesses in these areas with the tools required to drive innovation and success, both now and in decades to come.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “Having access to the fastest broadband is vital for communities everywhere in the UK, and for too long homes and businesses in the countryside have been missing out. 

“Teesdale was one of the first contracts awarded as part of Project Gigabit, our £5bn plan to connect hard-to-reach areas and deliver on the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy. Now spades are in the ground, thousands in the region are a big step closer to feeling the benefits of lightning-fast broadband.” 

Cllr Susan McDonnell, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for digital, customer services and procurement, added: “We are really pleased to see construction of the new network get underway. It is a fantastic step forward that is going to make a significant difference to thousands of our residents and businesses in rural areas and will complement several other programmes aimed at improving connectivity across Teesdale and the wider County Durham. 

“Not only will it allow for the creation of more opportunities for employment and education, particularly around studying or working from home, it will also help our communities to connect with each other and develop further social opportunities. We recognise these benefits and that is why we have made reliable broadband a key part of our ambitious plans for economic growth across the county. We look forward to our communities enjoying these benefits when construction is complete.” 

GoFibre is also working with DSIT and Northumberland County Council to get construction underway in North Northumberland following a second contract award win for the Scottish independent broadband provider last year.