East Lancashire apprentices update leader as superfast Lancashire network passes 110,000 homes and businesses

Pleasington, Ribchester and Whalley are latest communities to benefit 

East Lancashire apprentices at the forefront of the Superfast Lancashire roll-out of fibre broadband have been giving the county council leader an insight into their work and its challenges.

The visit came as Superfast Lancashire announced almost 115,000 homes and businesses can now access the high-speed fibre broadband network as a result of the project, with Pleasington, Ribchester and Whalley among the latest communities to ‘go live’.
Superfast Lancashire - the partnership between Lancashire County Council and BT - will make high-speed fibre broadband available to 97 per cent of premises in the county by the end of the year.

Yasemin Sunbul and Yasir Patel, both from Blackburn, and Robert Gregory, from Rossendale, joined Openreach – BT’s local network company - as part of a recruitment drive that has seen more than 140 young people taken on in the North West over the past 36 months.

Councillor Jennifer Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council, heard first-hand from the apprentices about their role in the massive multi million pound civil engineering project.

She said: “We’re committed to providing opportunities for young people, with more than 400 apprentices in our workforce at any one time, so it was great to be able to chat to some of the apprentices involved in rolling out superfast broadband in Lancashire.

“They were full of enthusiasm for their roles which are enabling them to gain the skills and experience they need to build careers in a growing sector, while helping to bring the benefits of superfast broadband to Lancashire’s homes and businesses.”

Steve Edwards, BT director for Next Generation Access for the north of the UK, said: “These young people are at the forefront of the fibre revolution that will drive future economic growth across Lancashire whilst at the same time changing for the better the way people communicate, learn, do business and enjoy their spare time.”
Yasemin Sunbul helps to plan the route of the fibre network. Her role includes everything from co-ordinating installation work with other utility providers, to getting permission to dig up roads.

She said: “I enjoy learning in a hands-on way and university never appealed to me, but the idea of learning the job straight off did - and this apprenticeship provides that. I also really enjoy contributing to the national roll-out of faster broadband.”
When younger, Yasemin represented England at ice skating. She still skates at Blackburn ice rink and is currently working to compete in the European Championships. In her spare time,Yasemin likes to watch films and go on social networking sites, making good use of the fibre broadband network she now helps to build.

Yasir Patel found out about the apprenticeship through a friend at BT and now works on the team planning the roll-out of the fibre broadband network. He said: “I really like the people I work with, and to be part of a big national organisation is a privilege.”

Yasir plays cricket and football and goes to the gym in his spare time as well as using his broadband to download movies.

Robert Gregory is part of the team of engineers installing fibre broadband. He said: “I really enjoy meeting different people on the job - but I’m not a big fan of being out there working in wet weather! I found out about the apprenticeships by looking on the internet and now use it to watch football and other TV programmes on a range of devices without it buffering or stalling.”

While learning on the job, the apprentices are working towards a recognised qualification, a BTEC NVQ Level 3 in ICT (Information and Communications Technology).

Local people wanting to find out if fibre broadband is available in their area can log onto the Superfast Lancashire website at: www.superfastlancashire.com

Other communities to go live recently include Halton and Kirkham.

Because the network is being installed by Openreach it is ‘open’, giving local residents and businesses a wide choice of broadband service providers . There are more than 140 fibre broadband providers currently operating in the UK, thereby ensuring competitive products and prices. Anyone choosing to upgrade will be able to get download speeds up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mpbs.*

Superfast Lancashire is a partnership between Lancashire County Council and BT, with additional funding from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK, as well as the European Regional Development Fund, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool Council.

* 80Mbps and 20Mbps are wholesale speeds. ISPs may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP

Notes to Editors
Superfast Lancashire’s Business Support Programme is governed by eligibility criteria defined by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) based on size, primary activity, turnover etc. Businesses will be expected to complete an initial short self-certification form which will be validated by one of the advisors.
The programme will link with other key support initiatives across Lancashire. This will enable businesses to gain from the extended benefits of complementary programmes such as Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, subject to not having exceeded their ERDF allowance.

The Business Support Programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in partnership with Superfast Lancashire.

BT is contributing £30 million to the Superfast Lancashire project whilst £10.8 million will come from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), £16.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund and £5.2 million from local councils (£4.7m from LCC, £300,000 from Blackburn with Darwen Council and £230,000 from Blackpool Council).

This project is part financed by the North West European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit


Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk