Lancashire County Council have released information on plans to deploy a county-wide 'super-fast broadband network' by 2014. The project intends to help stimulate business productivity and attract investment to the region from UK and international companies. Funding will come from the county council with other parts of the public sector being asked to contribute as well as funding from Europe and the private sector. Details of exactly what will be deployed hasn't been announced, but it is likely to use a variety of technologies to suit urban and rural areas. That will probably mean some areas may be limited to using Wireless links which are often restricted in speed to those similar to current first-generation broadband (e.g. 8 Mbps).
"Lancashire County Council is aiming to lead the county into a bright new future. We want to open up opportunities for businesses in Lancashire, by establishing a super-fast broadband network.
"It is important for the county council to encourage business, create jobs and develop a sustainable and growing economy. This will help people, especially in rural or deprived areas, to connect in new ways with the rest of Lancashire and the wider world."Geoff Driver, (County Councillor) Lancashire County Council
The deployment will aim for "close" to 100% coverage. That will probably mean that some areas that are considered not economically viable and will miss out on the new services. Interestingly, another objective is to ensure that the super-fast broadband network will be able to support future applications and services. That must surely mean that they will be rolling out fibre-to-the-premises/home (FTTP/H), as this is the only option that will provide enough bandwidth to meet future requirements in 5 to 10 years time without having to replace all the equipment that is installed through this investment programme.
A competitive tender process will be used to select a partner for the project which will hopefully lead to some private sector investment. The council hope to complete the project in around 2.5 years, and full details will be confirmed to the Cabinet later this week.
In other Lancashire-broadband news, a joint venture between BT and the county council has seen three community broadband networks future come in to question. Great Asby Broadband, a wireless community broadband project is one such affected network. They recently upgraded their wireless broadband distribution network to improve the speed of the broadband service that users can receive. Their backhaul is provided by LUNS (Lancashire University Network Services) through the Cumbria and Lancashire Open Education (Cleo) network.
Although the new partnership between BT and Lancashire County Council have said they will honour existing pricing for 12 months, they wouldn't be able to increase the backhaul bandwidth or provide more IP addresses, leaving the community with a new network that they cannot take full advantage of.