A new £30m public-private joint venture will see a 212km of full-fibre digital network installed across Liverpool city region offering broadband speeds of 1,000mbps. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool city region is will become the “most digitally connected region in the UK” in a £30m public-private partnership signed by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.
Mr Rotheram says the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has formed a joint venture North West-based ITS Technology Group to roll out 212km of full-fibre, gigabit-capable network infrastructure capable of delivering broadband speeds of 1,000mbps.
Work has already started on the network which Mr Rotheram claims will be transformational for businesses across multiple sectors including life sciences to artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing.
ITS will work alongside construction partner NGE, who are managing the build and roll out of the network. Mr Rotheram said the network could offer an economic boost to the city region of up to £1bn and help create thousands of jobs and training opportunities.
“When I was elected, I made it a priority to make our region the most digitally connected anywhere in the country,” he said. “Today we take a major step towards that, with the launch of this exciting partnership.
“Our region was at the heart of the first industrial revolution, and I believe that this project can help us be at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution, creating thousands of jobs and ultimately generating £1bn for the local economy.
“It will make us leaders in the industries of tomorrow and will help us attract talent and investment from around the world as others look to take advantage of our skills, infrastructure and expertise.
“Local people and businesses will feel the benefits too – in the form of significantly faster speeds as well as the jobs and training opportunities, although the Government still needs to tackle the problem of digital exclusion. And, best of all, it will all be 50% owned by us so we can continue to reap the benefits for years to come.”
In its initial phase, the consortium will create a resilient fibre ‘backhaul network’, connecting three transatlantic cables and major economic clusters in each of the Liverpool city region’s six local authority areas – Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton.
Digital infrastructure will be installed in carriageways, footpaths and cycle ways across the city region over the next two years, using techniques designed to minimise the impact on road and public transport users wherever possible.
Daren Baythorpe, chief executive of ITS Technology Group, added: “This programme will have a transformational effect for everyone in the region and we are excited to be playing a central role in its delivery.
“As shareholder partners in the joint venture we are proud to be contributing significantly to the tremendous growth in the digital economy of the region, and supporting national targets for full fibre access by 2033.”
And Alison Kennedy, director of the Hartree Centre at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, also said: “The powerful computing capability at the Hartree Centre underpins our work with a range of companies to help them benefit from advanced digital technologies.
“This faster connectivity infrastructure will allow us reach even more companies and support their growth. A number of companies have already co-located at Sci-Tech Daresbury, including IBM Research. Being linked to one of the fastest digital infrastructures in the country is a strong incentive for additional SMEs and larger companies to expand their presence in the region.”