After two years’ hard work, Broadband for the Allen Valleys (B4AV) volunteers and B4RN engineers are connecting the first of 1,800 properties to their new full fibre 1Gbps community broadband network.

With more than 350km of fibre optic duct laid, the first stage of the community broadband network is switched on.

The North of Tyne Mayor, Jamie Driscoll, is a vocal supporter of the project saying: “This is about communities taking control of our economic future. Broadband internet is crucial to so much of the future.”

Residents are excited about life in the digital fast lane, with local services set to benefit from the improved connectivity.

For Gareth Forbes, a village GP, the connection can’t come soon enough, as lockdown measures mean that working from home and online interactions are critical to maintaining health care services.

Gareth said: “Much of primary care has moved online, with video, telephone and e-consultations now making up the bulk of our work.”

However, the area’s unreliable internet is making this challenging, Gareth explains: “My home has a very poor connection. At peak times, this can mean direct clinical work is not practical at all.”

When the core network is completed, 1,800 properties will enjoy download speeds of 1GB, for as little as £30 a month.