Combined Authority approves £6.4m funding to begin installing infrastructure for a 220km ultrafast digital network across all six Liverpool city region boroughs. Tony McDonough reports
More than 220km of digital infrastructure will offer ultra-fast broadband to all six boroughs of Liverpool city region.
A £6.4m funding package has been approved by the city region Combined Authority to begin installing cable ducts across Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, Halton and St Helens.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Combined Authority will seek a a joint venture partner to act as co-investor, commercialisation partner and network manager of the network that will be connected to the Hartree supercomputer in Halton.
According to Mr Rotheram, the project will see the city region become the most digitally part of the UK, opening up investment opportunities worth billions of pounds. He said: “Digital connectivity has never been more important and I want to ensure no borough in our region is left behind.
“I want our region to be the most digitally connected area in the country and we’re putting the infrastructure in place now to ensure that we can be at the forefront of the digital revolution moving forward.”
The cable ducts will be installed in carriageways, footpaths and cycle ways over the next three years, while existing roadworks take place. It is anticipated that 30% of the digital network will be installed via this ‘dig once’ approach, minimising disruption to road and public transport users.
The initial £6.4m is coming from the LCR’s Strategic Investment Fund. Procurement of a joint venture partner has already begun. Benefits of ultrafast connectivity includes:
- Attracting new companies, industries and jobs, plus enabling manufacturers to move massive data sets around with ease.
- Improving health services via instant and remote high resolution medical scanning, surgery and data transfer.
- Boosting the growing digital and creative sector, while unlocking innovation within SMEs across all sectors.
- Enabling developments in education services, such as online teaching and learning resources.
- Enhancing public services.
Councillor David Baines, Leader of St Helens Council and Portfolio Holder for Digital Connectivity and Inclusion at the Combined Authority, added: “Ultrafast connectivity is fundamental for growing our economy so we’re moving at pace with this project to make sure people and businesses can benefit as quickly as possible.
“We know it’s important to coordinate the works with existing roadworks and infrastructure plans which is why we are using the ‘dig once’ approach, which will not only help us save money, but reduce disruption for our residents.”
Organisations interested in building, operating and maintaining the digital connectivity network required for the project, can find out about becoming a joint venture partner via the Combined Authority’s procurement portal.