World-class broadband set for Lancashire

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 deployments and will see the total amount invested in this technology in Lancashire rise to approximately £130 million.

The project will extend 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.

The project will also be of significant benefit to those Lancashire premises which currently receive speeds of less than 2Mbps. Ofcom believe that around 15 per cent of premises in Lancashire currently receive less than 2Mbps but that percentage will plummet to virtually zero as the project will ensure they benefit from faster speeds.

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 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.

BT’s network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Lancashire consumers and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market.

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.”