British fixed line incumbent BT has announced that Lancashire will be the first county to benefit from funding provided by the Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK); the latter is a team within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) set up to deliver the state’s broadband strategy, with its main role being the allocation and distribution of GBP530 million (USD848 million) of funding targeted at bringing superfast broadband to the third of UK homes and businesses which are not expected to be covered by commercial rollouts.
Lancashire County Council (LCC) has reportedly agreed a GBP62.5 million project with BT under which the telco will roll out fibre-based broadband services to those parts of the county not covered by commercial deployment plans. As a result of the project, it is expected that by the end of 2014 fibre access will be available to 97% of the premises in Lancashire. BT noted that it had been chosen by the council following an extensive selection process, and it has confirmed that it will contribute GBP30 million towards the total cost of the project. The remainder will come from BDUK, which will hand over GBP10.8 million, with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and local councils contributing GBP16.5 million and GBP5.2 million respectively.
BT is already in the process of rolling out fibre broadband in Lancashire as part of its commercial plans aimed at bringing the technology to around two-thirds of the UK by the end of 2014. The LCC project, it said, would ‘extend the company’s fibre network so it covers the vast majority of areas in Lancashire that are not viable to supply on a commercial basis alone’. It also noted that the network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis.
Commenting on the development, Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said: ‘It’s great to see Lancashire be first out of the BDUK starting blocks in this regional race for speed. We’re looking forward to working with other local authorities and devolved governments to bring the economic benefits of high speed broadband to businesses and communities across the UK.’