New broadband to be rolled out

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Work has started in the first locations as part of a multi-million pound project to make superfast broadband available throughout the county.

The Superfast scheme is a joint venture between BT and Lancashire County Council.

Engineers have now begun planning and building the new high-speed fibre network in a number of areas in the county, including 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, 2013.

Further coverage in these areas will be 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 Lancaster.

In total, the first phase of the project should see more than 13,000 homes and businesses 
gain access to fibre broadband services.

BT engineers will start work on laying around 2,700km of optical fibre cable and installing a total of around 700 new fibre broadband cabinets throughout the Superfast Lancashire Broadband Project area.

It is estimated that engineers will complete more than a million man hours of work planning and building the network during the lifetime of the project.

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.

The project will transform the broadband landscape across the county by extending access to fibre broadband to 97 per cent of premises by the end of 2015, ensuring Lancashire is one of the best connected counties in the UK.

Superfast Lancashire will also benefit those Lancashire premises which currently receive downstream speeds of less than 2Mbps.

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.

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.”

Mike Blackburn, BT’s regional director for the north west, said: “This ambitious project will boost the productivity of local businesses and help to attract a more diverse range of high-growth companies to the area.

“It will play a major role in creating prosperity in the county.”