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Lancashire UK Hunts £3m from EU to Improve Rural Broadband

Friday, May 11th, 2018 (8:47 am) - Score 512
lancashire 2018 broadband coverage map uk

We might be set to leave the EU in March 2019 but the Lancashire County Council (LCC) in England has announced that they are seeking £3m from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) to help improve local broadband connectivity, which will be matched by £2m from the council (£5m total).

At present the existing and state aid supported Superfast Lancashire project with BT (Openreach) has already succeeded in helping to extend the local coverage of fixed line “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) capable networks – predominantly using a mix of FTTC and a little FTTP technology – to reach around 97% of the county. This has also been indirectly supported by commercial rollouts and community efforts, such as via the venerable B4RN.

The current contracts, which are also supported by the government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme, have already helped to reach an additional 136,000 premises and a further 11,283 should be put within reach of superfast connectivity by the end of 2018. Unfortunately upon completion this will still leave around 17,000 properties to suffer slower speeds.

Cllr Michael Green, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said:

“For local businesses, broadband connects them with new customers and opens up new markets, and creates new jobs for local residents. It also reduces the difference between companies, giving them a more level playing field, regardless of where they’re based.

If our bid for funding is a success, it will bring increased coverage and increased speeds in harder to-reach and more isolated rural areas. These areas tend to be avoided by commercial providers due to cost, and are also more likely to have poor mobile phone 4G service connectivity.

While this scheme is mainly aimed at helping business, superfast broadband in rural areas provides important connections for people and access to services that they couldn’t find locally.”

A rough map of the areas that could benefit from this additional investment has been posted here and a related report to the cabinet on the plans for their bid are also available online, although the document doesn’t offer much detail.

The council will now need to conduct another Open Market Review (OMR) in order to establish the existing and planned level of superfast broadband coverage in the county. In the past they’ve had a rather nasty habit of shunning the good work being done by alternative network (AltNet) ISPs.

The outcome of the bid is likely to be known in Autumn 2018.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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4 Responses
  1. CarlT

    Pretty sure Lancashire had a strong leave vote in the referendum. How delicious they are tapping EU funds. Smart, too. If you’re outside the M25 you don’t exist according to Westminster.

    • Joe

      Not sure it follows:

      You work within the system as it is not as you wish it to be. As long as we are in the EU any region is entitled to apply.

      Brexiteers would doubtless argue that as a massive net contributor its getting some of ‘our’ money back.

    • occasionally factual

      Asking for the money is one thing.
      Getting another.
      I would suspect that if the deliverable date is after March 2019 then the request for funding will be knocked back.
      Look at the science research field where UK representatives are no longer wanted for any EU funded project as they feel it will cost them the grants.

    • CarlT

      I refer the gentleman’s argument to that Westminster seems happy to believe nothing outside the South-East exists. The governments of all colours seem to go out of their way to keep the regions poorer and London wealthier. By some measures we have the wealthiest part of Europe in Inner London, and 9 of the 10 poorest.

      Westminster aren’t suddenly going to take an interest when they have billions to spend on extra Crossrail, alongside linking two other places close to their hearts, Oxford and Cambridge, to London.

      Investing in the regions may mean they end up not relying on fiscal transfers from London, then they might get uppity. Even more so when the government can’t have the Express, Sun and Mail tell them it’s all the EU’s fault.

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