Blackpool builds own high-speed network

Blackpool will become the owner of its own high-speed broadband network that will connect almost 100 schools, libraries, leisure centres, business incubator sites and public buildings across the town, thanks to a pioneering new project from Blackpool Council and Lancaster-based The Networking People (TNP).

TNP BlackpoolBy removing reliance on national internet providers, the council will make significant cost savings on public sector telecoms over the five-year term, releasing much-needed revenue to fund other key services for Blackpool; critical against a backdrop of continuing spending cuts.

TNP, as part of a £3.2m, five-year managed services contract, will design and build the council-owned wide area network (WAN) to reduce reliance on revenue budgets and ensure that everyone using the network will receive a robust, resilient service.

Now, rather than renting expensive internet services, TNP will take advantage of a range of technologies to provide the council with its own, bespoke, flexible network which it will use to offer a raft of key services to the town.

Schools will be offered the best-price connectivity available, as well as migration to the latest cloud-based IT and software services, including Google Apps and Microsoft 365. Web-based phone systems will also be installed, virtually eliminating schools’ phone bills.

In line with central government’s Digital by Default agenda, which recognises the need to enhance public internet services, libraries and leisure centres will be able to open up this high-speed WiFi to the general public.

Councillor Chris Maughan, cabinet member for technology, says: “This partnership is allowing the council to make significant savings at a time when the cost of telecoms is going up. It is also providing the town with resilient and secure connectivity that is completely under our control to grow and adapt as we do. It will modernise how the council delivers services to the public.”

Chris Wade, director, TNP, said: “As a regional, independent business, not only are we able to offer the council asset ownership of the network, but we can provide cost savings by integrating existing infrastructure and dramatically reduce operating costs." The network will be rolled out over the next six months, with TNP continuing to develop and manage the service over the next five years. The framework will allow for at least six other Lancashire councils to collaborate and join the network at any time.