Northumberland County Council says it will make Public Services Network (PSN) savings and enjoy faster internet speeds through a deal with BT.

Northumberland has signed a five year deal with BT Global Services to continue to provide it with NorthNet, a shared services platform that supports the council's own IT services and those of other public sector services in the area, such as schools, health centres and emergency services.

The new deal covers areas previously beyond the reach of the NorthNet network. Rural towns including Wooler, Belford, Bellingham and Rothbury are now set to benefit, with schools in those areas to see an increase in internet speeds, giving faster access to online learning.

The council says its existing partnership with BT has already "generated £860,000 worth of savings". The latest deal, the value of which has not been disclosed, is set to deliver further benefits, including upgrading the existing council network to be PSN ready. This will enable Nortumberland to reap the benefits of greater connectivity across public sector services.

David McDonnell, networks and data manager at Northumberland County Council, said: “We are ensuring our rural locations in the county have access to fast internet speeds, Wooler library has just gone live with more areas to follow.”

Last month BT and Fujitsu were sent back to the drawing board after their bids to roll out superfast broadband in Cumbria were rejected by councillors.