Chatburn pioneers ‘Superfast Lancashire’

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CHATBURN is among the first communities to benefit from a multi-million pound “Superfast Lancashire” broadband project.

Work has started in the first locations as part of Superfast Lancashire, the ambitious joint project between Lancashire County Council and BT to make superfast broadband available throughout the county. Engineers have now begun planning and building the new high-speed fibre network in a number of areas in the county, including the communities of Chatburn, Caton, Forton and Galgate.

Around 2,500 homes and businesses in these communities will have access to fibre broadband (with speeds of up to 80Mbps) once this initial phase of the county-wide roll-out is completed. The first customers are expected to be able to connect by September this year, with further coverage in these areas delivered in future phases.

There will also be a substantial investment in making fibre broadband more widely available in areas which already have the high-speed technology such as Blackburn, Burnley, Lancaster and Leyland. In total, the first phase of the Project should see more than 13,000 homes and businesses gain access to fibre broadband services.

The Project will use public and private sector funds to deliver high-speed broadband to parts of the country not covered by commercial roll-out plans and will see the total amount invested in this technology in Lancashire rise to around £130m., including £16.5m. of support from the European Regional Development Fund North West programme. It also includes funds from supporting council partners Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen.

The Project will transform the broadband landscape across the county by extending access to fibre broadband to 97% of premises by the end of 2015 to ensure that Lancashire is one of the best connected counties in the UK.

The local economy will also benefit with the creation of 2,500 jobs and the protection of more than 1,200 jobs over the next few years. The county’s Enterprise Zones are a key priority as superfast broadband will help local businesses to become even more competitive.

As part of the drive to stimulate business growth, funding from the project is being used to launch a Business Support Programme. A team of business advisors have been recruited to support the growth and development of local SMEs by showing them how super-fast broadband can be used to enhance their business. A specialised Business Support Centre will open in the summer. More detailed information on the roll-out will also be available at a new website (www.superfastlancashire.com) in the coming months.

Geoff Driver, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “Superfast Lancashire is hugely important for the county. This project will ensure that our people and businesses can benefit from the next generation of superfast broadband. Completing this project will put Lancashire at the forefront of the digital revolution.”