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North Lanarkshire Approve GBP150m Broadband and WiFi Upgrade

Sunday, Feb 27th, 2022 (9:11 am) - Score 2,296
Bundle of optical fibers with lights in the ends lay on keyboard.

The North Lanarkshire Council in Scotland has announced that up to £150 million could be spent as part of an “initial” 15-year deal with ISP Commsworld, which will work to create lots of free public WiFi networks and to upgrade local public sector sites to gigabit broadband connectivity. Local homes and businesses may also benefit.

The new framework agreement for Digital Connectivity Services is apparently designed to “future-proof North Lanarkshire Council’s digital backbone” (this sounds like council owned Dark Fibre), while also “enhancing the coverage and reach of gigabit-capable fibre networks to businesses, private and council owned social housing and residential households” that are not currently served by existing networks.

The new agreement appears to reflect three key areas of development.

Key Focus of the Framework Agreement

➤ The digital transformation will create a free public WiFi network as all town centres, council and public buildings, sport and leisure facilities, culture venues, libraries, country parks, sheltered housing, schools and homelessness accommodation are connected, enabling people who don’t have digital connectivity to have fast internet access, helping to reduce the digital gap across North Lanarkshire.

➤ Through a phased programme of work, under the terms of the deal, every one of the council’s 155 schools will benefit from a significant uplift in internet connectivity with a minimum 1Gb connection for primary schools – which is twenty times the current capacity – and secondary schools increasing to a resilient 5Gb, signalling infinite opportunities for digital learning through faster download speeds.

➤ As well as bringing an additional digital fibre provider to the area, increasing competition, plans could be developed to offer vastly reduced rates for gigabit-capable fibre broadband to council tenants, residents and businesses.

Sadly, the announcement doesn’t say precisely where the funding for all this is coming from or provide much detail on the technical side of their approach, although we suspect that the new fibre optic infrastructure will probably end up being made accessible for commercial ISPs to harness. The latter would probably require additional private investment.

Councillor Kenneth Duffy said:

“The award of this contract to Commsworld is a huge leap forward for the ambitions we have for everyone in North Lanarkshire. The potential impact of these plans cannot be underestimated as this contract has brought forward and increased the availability and choice of fibre broadband to towns, communities, businesses and rural areas across North Lanarkshire, massively improving their digital connectivity and delivering a GVA of around £1.3bn over 15 years.

We know from talking with people in communities that digital exclusion is a real concern. Equality of access is crucial to improving the lives of people living here and we’re starting right here by providing a network of free public WiFi across our own public buildings, town centres, schools, leisure centres, venues, sheltered housing and homelessness facilities.

This means that anyone can have access to one of the fastest internet connections available from these locations, supporting a range of individual and business needs such as faster upload and download speeds, higher quality video and audio streaming and the ability to support more devices simultaneously at home.”

The original announcement actually lists the data speeds as 1GB and 5GB (GigaBytes) instead of Gigabits (Gb), but we’re fairly confident they meant Gb per second.

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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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2 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Nat Morris says:

    Congrats to Charlie, Nick and team. Great to see Commsworld/Fluency going from strength to strength and picking up these large contracts.

  2. Avatar photo Iqbal Bedi says:

    FYI Intelligens Consulting advised North Lanarkshire on the financing, technical, contract and commercial strategy. If you want to know more reach out to info@IntelligensConsulting.com

Comments are closed

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