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Town of St Helens Start £2.5m Project to Build Full Fibre Network

Monday, Mar 11th, 2024 (4:01 pm) - Score 1,640
Bundle of optical fibers with lights in the ends lay on keyboard.

The local authority for the Merseyside (England) town of St Helens, which is home to a population of around 103,000, has notified ISPreview of a new digital infrastructure project that aims to invest £2.5m to deploy a fibre optic network to support businesses across the town centre with gigabit-capable broadband.

At present, most of St Helens is already well covered by gigabit-capable broadband networks from both Virgin Media (VMO2) and Openreach (BT), while Grain covers much of the Newtown area. CityFibre have also been deploying in the town since 2022 (here), but it’s unclear how much progress they’ve made, as the network doesn’t seem to have gone live yet (there’s currently only minimal build activity).

The big problem is that the aforementioned builds have left a sizeable chunk unserved around the centre of the town, where many businesses, shops and stadiums tend to reside. The council is now planning to resolve this by harnessing a £2.5m public investment.

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The new St Helens Council Digital Infrastructure Project aims to deliver “high quality fibre connections to support businesses across St Helens town centre” (this will be a gigabit-capable network). The network may also help to fuel capacity for faster 5G mobile networks and free Wi-Fi for local communities.

Councillor Richard McCauley, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning, said:

“This Town Deal project is a key part of our transformational work to develop St Helens town centre and will prove a real boost to businesses, residents and visitors and will help enable better support for things like 5G connectivity in the borough in the future. This scheme will also provide digital infrastructure pulling together the other Town Deal project sites across St Helens town centre.”

The next steps will see the Council seek interest from the Market by running a tender process to appoint a delivery partner with the aim to have works starting during the autumn of this year and completing late 2025. But in our experience it’s not uncommon for such projects to take a bit longer than expected to reach completion (i.e. take these dates as being very tentative).

The Supplier, once selected, will then take responsibility for owning, operating and maintaining the digital network and connecting end-user customers to the fibre gigabit offer. The Council will be holding a Pre-tender engagement session to explain what is required and the procurement process it will follow; between 14:00 to 15:30 on 27th March for interested parties.

Interested parties can register here for more (due to go live sometime later today) or suppliers may prefer to contact the team at digitalinfrastructureproject@sthelens.gov.uk for further information.

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Mark-Jackson
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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Comments
6 Responses
  1. Avatar photo CF nose says:

    CF pulled out of building any more of St Helens due to poor RTI. The penetration rate is less than 3%

    1. Avatar photo Bevster69uk says:

      It would help a lot of you could actually order a service! The build was completed in January round here. They’vr had to come back multiple times to fix the poor job they did of resurfacing where they’d dug, but still not able to order.

      I keep being contacted by Giganet, one of their partners to say order now, but the service isn’t live!

      I was planning to join to get away from Virgin, but with all the delays to being able to order, I’ve now had to renew for 18 months to avoid a £50 per month increase for being out of contract!

    2. Avatar photo Anon says:

      @Bevster69uk the build was aborted and not completed hence why you can’t order service. To be ready for service requires much more than just a duct installed along your street!

  2. Avatar photo Liverpudlian Taxpayer says:

    Was the Combined Authority’s invesment into LCRConnect not meant to solve this problem, why is even more public money being spent to build another network?

    1. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Yep, LCRConnect’s a totally misguided investment- building unnecessary backhaul capacity vs. addressing the real gap of building deeper reach local networks. Be good to do some FOI on it. Suspect Combined Authority will need to shore it up, when it never makes the returns pitched by the Commercial partners.

  3. Avatar photo Ian Winstanley says:

    They need to come to Rainford and upgrade here. My street is still on copper cables.

Comments are closed

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