The technology tide turns on historic Northumbrian Island

The historic tidal island of Lindisfarne has had an ultrafast tech boost as Openreach engineers complete work on a gigabit broadband upgrade for the small community.

Situated roughly 1.5 km off the Northumberland coast, Holy Island - as it’s also known - may have been in the history books since the sixth century but it’s now well and truly set for the future with ‘Full Fibre’ broadband available to every home and business on the island.

Offering speeds ten times faster and five times more reliable than the existing copper based broadband, it will transform the lives of people living and working there as well as offering improved connectivity for the more than 650,000 tourists who visit each year.

People are already jumping at the chance to sign up for Ultrafast broadband speeds of up to one gigabit per second (1Gbps) using Full Fibre technology - where fibre is run directly from the exchange all the way to individual properties.

Mike Poole, Chief Engineer and member of the Openreach North of England board, said: “Twice a day when the tide comes in people living and working on Holy Island aren’t physically connected to the mainland but they can certainly stay virtually connected via their broadband now.

“Weather on the island can be extreme especially in winter so having more reliable broadband technology is arguably nearly as important as speed, although the speed will certainly come into its own in the summer months when thousands of visitors arrive.

“With visitors comes additional demand on existing infrastructure and that includes broadband. For businesses on the island, many of whom support the tourist industry, this new technology is vital. People still expect to be able to access Wi-Fi in cafes to upload their holidays snaps to social media and download films in the evening to relax after a day out.”

The work to build the new Full Fibre network on Holy Island is part of Openreach’s wider build across Northumberland with engineers currently working in Alnwick, Berwick and Morpeth.

Mike Poole added: “In communities across Northumberland people are likely to notice an increase in Openreach activity. Our teams work hard to make sure that we keep any disruption to local communities to a minimum by reusing our existing network where possible, but it’s not always straightforward. Occasionally we do need to put up new telegraph poles or use traffic lights to enable engineers to work safely in the road, but full fibre will bring multiple benefits to people living and working across the county as well as welcome boost to the local economy.”

Recent research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) highlighted the clear economic benefits of connecting everyone in the North East to full fibre. It estimated this would create a £1.7 billion boost to the local economy.

More than 31,000 homes and businesses in more than 25 Northumberland exchange areas including Alnmouth, Amble, Ashington, Bamburgh, Blyth, Otterburn and Stannington can already order Full Fibre broadband as a result of the both the company’s commercial build and their iNorthumberland broadband partnership with Northumberland County Council.

Openreach has also announced plans to invest in Full Fibre broadband for the majority of premises in towns and villages across Northumberland including in Ashington, Corbridge, Haltwhistle, Haydon Bridge, Hexham, Longframlington, Lynemouth, Ponteland, Red Row, Rothbury, Seahouses, Shilbottle, Stocksfield and Ulgham. It’s part of the company’s plans to reach 25 million UK homes and businesses by the end of 2026. This short video explains what Full Fibre technology is and you can find out more about Openreach Fibre First build programme here.