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BT Confirms 97 Percent of Lancashire UK to Get its Superfast Broadband

Tuesday, Apr 3rd, 2012 (1:02 pm) - Score 1,115

BT and the Lancashire County Council (LCC) have announced that 97% of homes and businesses in the UK county will be able to receive the telecom operators superfast broadband (FTTC , FTTP) ISP services by the end of 2014 (subject to the timing of State Aid approval) after both parties agreed the new £62.5 million project.

The move, which follows only days after the rival B4RN (Broadband 4 Rural North) project began work to connect thousands of rural homes in north Lancashire UK via their ambitious 1Gbps (Gigabits per second) capable fibre optic (FTTH) network (here), is the latest in a long string of wins for BT. The operator also looks set to gain key Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) contracts for the Highlands and Islands (Scotland), Wales and Rutland (England).

As a result BT claims that the people of Lancashire will “be the first to benefit” from the UK governments public funding, which has so far set aside almost £1bn (£530m core funding + £150m Urban Broadband Fund and possibly £300m from the BBC after 2015) to help boost broadband ISP connectivity across the United Kingdom (excludes EU funding, mobile infrastructure subsidies and existing private investment).

Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director of NGA, said:

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.”

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.”

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.”

Furthermore BT, which expects to contribute £30 million of its own money to the project (plus £10.8m from BDUK, £16.5m from the EU and £5.2m from local councils), claims that the new development will also boost the local economy by up to £100m (ERDF estimate) and create around 2,500 jobs (plus protecting another 1,200 “over the next few years“).

The UK government currently aims for 90% of “people in each local authority area” to be within reach of a superfast broadband (24Mbps+) ISP service by 2015, while the last 10% can expect a minimum speed of at least 2Mbps. Today’s news suggests that “virtually zero” premises in Lancashire will be left with sub-2Mbps speeds after BT’s upgrade (Ofcom suggests that 15% of local homes and businesses currently get less than 2Mbps).

LCC has also created a £500k Community Fund to help reach the most remote homes and an initial pilot is already set to take place on the east side of Lancaster. But critics will no doubt be concerned at how BT appears to be winning all the contracts for public funding. Some recent reports have indicated that BT and Fujitsu (Virgin Media) could now be the only two operators left in BDUK’s national framework, although the latter has yet to win any public funding.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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