The people of Lancashire will be the first to benefit from funding provided by the Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) after Lancashire County Council (LCC) agreed a £62.5 million project with BT. This will deliver fibre broadband to parts of the county not covered by commercial roll out plans and will see the total amount invested in this technology in Lancashire rise to approximately £130 million.
The project will transform the broadband landscape across the county by extending access to fibre broadband to 97 per cent of premises by the end of 2014. This will ensure that Lancashire is one of the best connected counties in the UK.
It will also boost the local economy by creating around 2,500 jobs and protecting more than 1,200 jobs over the next few years. The county’s enterprise zones are a key priority as fibre broadband will help local businesses to become more competitive
BT was chosen by the Council following an extensive and thorough selection process. The company will contribute £30 million to the project whilst £10.8 million will come from BDUK, £16.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and £5.2 million from local councils (£4.7m from LCC, £300,000 from Blackburn with Darwen Council and £230,000 from Blackpool Council).
BT is already in the process of rolling out fibre broadband to homes and businesses in Lancashire as part of its commercial plan to reach around two-thirds of UK premises with the technology by the end of 2014. The LCC project will extend the company’s fibre network so it covers the vast majority of areas in Lancashire that are not viable to supply on a commercial basis alone.
Fibre to the Premises technology – delivering ultra-fast speeds of up to 300Mbps – will also be deployed in certain areas and will be available on demand throughout the whole of the fibre footprint should local businesses want the ultra-fast speeds it offers.
For local businesses, the super-fast network will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications. Users will be able to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. Computer processing and storage of files will also become more sophisticated and secure using “cloud computing” technology. There will be faster back up of computer systems and wider use of high quality videoconferencing within firms and between them and their customers.
Edwin Booth, Chairman of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is incredibly important for the success of the Lancashire economy. The project will transform the broadband landscape across the county and ensure that local businesses can become global businesses. It will ensure that firms remain here and it will also attract a more diverse range of high growth, high value companies to the county.”
Geoff Driver, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “Today our ambition to provide Lancashire’s citizens and business with a world-class broadband service turns into a reality. It is important that as many areas as possible benefit, and that is why we have ensured that even the more remote areas of the county see a significant improvement in their speeds.”
Bill Murphy, managing director NGA, BT, added: “It’s great to see Lancashire be first out of the BDUK starting blocks in this regional race for speed. We’re looking forward to working with other local authorities and devolved governments to bring the economic benefits of high speed broadband to businesses and communities across the UK.”