Secretary of State Visits Wooler Community As GoFibre Showcases Full Fibre Broadband Network

The Scoop | 28/02/2024

With construction of its full fibre broadband network continuing in North Northumberland as part of the UK government’s Project Gigabit programme, GoFibre welcomed Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan MP to discuss progress and its benefits to the Wooler community.

The visit came as the UK government announced that more than one million homes, businesses and public buildings can now access the best internet speeds through the rollout of faster, more reliable broadband as a result of Project Gigabit.

Technology Secretary Donelan first visited The Arlington Hotel, where she was able to hear first-hand from owner and entrepreneur, Ben Ross, about the impact that fast, reliable broadband has had in transforming the everyday activities for the Wooler High Street family-business.

Prior to signing up with GoFibre, The Arlington Hotel had been quoted unsustainable costs to only be connected to a landline. Now, armed with a faster and more reliable full fibre broadband service, the business has been able to bring the hotel into the digital era, increasing the efficiency of operations including providing guests with the convenience to self-check into the hotel.

Currently local residents and businesses across Berwick-upon-Tweed, Seahouses, Belford and Wooler are able to access and benefit from full fibre connectivity - considered the best type available. This growing network courtesy of GoFibre is enabling businesses to future-proof, whilst reaching their full economic potential, and helping to close the digital divide in underserved areas.

Technology Secretary Donelan met one local resident, who specifically moved to the area to access the full fibre network. Before moving to Wooler, Gwenda Davison used to have to make a 90-mile round trip to her work at a large multinational label firm.

GoFibre’s full fibre network construction in Wooler enabled Gwenda to make her move to a more rural area without compromising her work commitments. A reliable connection allows her to continue to access the tools she needs to connect with colleagues all over the world.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan MP, said: “Achieving a million gigabit-ready premises shows our plan to turbocharge British broadband is working. Thanks to our investment, rural communities held back by achingly slow internet can now tap into the best speeds on the market.

“The UK is rolling out gigabit networks faster than any country in the EU, with 8 in 10 premises now able to access upgrades. It is a track record that shows we are rapidly building the infrastructure Britain needs to improve lives and grow the economy.”

Ben Ross, Owner of The Arlington Hotel, added: “The increased connectivity provided by GoFibre’s full fibre network and BDUK funding, has provided a fast internet connection in a very remote and rural location. Guests love having access to fast Wi-Fi from their rooms plus it gives them the reliability to self-check in online.

“From a cost perspective, without full fibre, we would have to pay considerably more just to have a landline. I was previously quoted costs which wouldn’t have been feasible to upkeep. Being connected to GoFibre’s full fibre network is not only giving the business the best of internet speeds, but it has saved us money.”

Gwenda Davison, Wooler resident, said: “Having a full fibre connection has been a real-life changer. We decided to 'live the dream' of a more rural existence as well as secure a better work / life balance.

“A stable, consistent and strong connection was vital in enabling the move which would have been impossible without GoFibre’s full fibre network coming to Wooler.”

GoFibre’s construction in North Northumberland will continue to take place until 2025, with more than 3,750 hard-to-reach homes and businesses set to be connected to the full fibre network. GoFibre was awarded the £7.3 million contract in Autumn 2022 with construction beginning last summer following a period of planning and surveying for the build.

Neil Conaghan, Chief Executive Officer at GoFibre, said: “It was brilliant to welcome the Technology Secretary and see first-hand the real difference reliable connectivity can make to day-to-day life at home and in business. During the visit, we had the opportunity to highlight the remarkable progress that our team have made in the region and the significant opportunities Project Gigabit has brought to North Northumberland.

“Inadequate digital access has held back communities in the North East of England for quite some time. We're committed, alongside our national and local community partners to changing that with our expanding full-fibre network, working to bridge the divide and fuel innovation for residents and businesses now and in the future.”

Households and businesses can check availability and register for GoFibre’s services at