Greater Manchester Councils join forces with BT to bring high speed broadband to homes and businesses

High-speed fibre broadband will be extended to a further 39,000 homes and businesses in Greater Manchester by the end of March 2016, following a £15 million partnership project announced today between eight local authorities and BT. 

Councils in Stockport, Bolton, Wigan, Bury, Tameside, Oldham, Trafford and Rochdale are working with BT to supply superfast broadband to town centres and key business districts. 

The plans could see an £80 million boost to Greater Manchester’s economy and the creation of around 500 new jobs*. 

As part of the partnership, BT is contributing £4.6 million towards the overall cost of deployment in ‘non-commercial’ areas, and the eight councils are investing £2.5 million. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is contributing nearly £5 million**, with a further £3 million coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund. 

The partnership builds on BT’s ongoing commercial fibre deployment which will bring fibre broadband to nearly one million premises in Greater Manchester*** by the end of Spring 2014 – with more than 900,000 homes and businesses already passed with fibre. 

Eamonn Boylan, Chief Executive of Stockport Council, lead local authority for the project, said: “We want to see Greater Manchester become one of the world’s top digital cities by 2020. The eight local authority areas, with their active local business communities, will play a crucial role in this. 

“Access to fast and reliable broadband is becoming increasingly important for homes and businesses. These proposals would ensure local businesses can make the most of digital technology - boosting the local economy, generating growth, creating jobs and attracting further investment.” 

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, commented: “Access to high-speed broadband is rapidly becoming a key ingredient for economic growth and is also a major determining factor in where businesses decide to locate. 

“Fibre broadband opens up a whole raft of leading edge software applications that will benefit businesses – allowing them to work more efficiently, enabling people to work when and where they want to, as well as expanding their business offerings and connecting with customers, not just locally but all over the world.” 

For local businesses, the fibre network will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications. Big business applications driven by new ‘cloud’ services will be within the reach of enterprises of all sizes. Computer back-up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high-quality videoconferencing will become a viable possibility. 

Further benefits of faster broadband include users being able to use multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time, and send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. This will make things like gaming, watching video or downloading films and music much quicker and without annoying ‘buffering’ or screen freeze. 

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, said: “This is fantastic news for the 39,000 homes and businesses in Greater Manchester that will benefit from this £15 million project. The UK already does more business online than any other European country, and widespread access to superfast speeds will provide a tremendous boost to the economies of all eight local authority areas involved.” 

Sir Howard Bernstein, Vice Chair of the North West European Regional Development Fund Local Management Committee and Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, added: "This programme will help local businesses make the most of superfast broadband, improving performance and helping to create and safeguard jobs. It will provide a major boost to the economy across Greater Manchester and we are pleased that ERDF have been able to support it financially." 

Chair of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and Leader of Wigan Council, Lord Peter Smith, welcomed the news, commenting: “This is fantastic news for Greater Manchester, with faster and more reliable broadband making it an attractive place to live and do business. Research shows that improving the connectivity of an area can have a positive impact on the overall economy, encouraging investment and with it, jobs.” 


Notes to Editors: 

*Figures taken from an economic impact study undertaken by Regeneris in September 2013. 

** £4.999 million. 

***.Including Manchester City Council and Salford Council areas. 

Jpg caption: Eamonn Boylan, Chief Executive of Stockport Council (left) and Bill Murphy, BT ‘s managing director of next generation access (right) announce plans to deliver high-speed fibre broadband to a further 39,000 homes and businesses in Greater Manchester. 

Greater Manchester Broadband Project 
The broadband infrastructure programme aims to maximise the reach of superfast broadband (SFB) across the region and deliver a step change in the way that businesses in the eight metropolitan boroughs in Greater Manchester access and use digital infrastructure and services. The broadband infrastructure programme will ensure that the provision of superfast broadband goes wider, deeper, and faster than would otherwise be provided by the market without intervention, stimulating growth, supporting innovation, and helping SME’s to grow and generate new employment. 

Stockport Council has been chosen as the lead authority to progress the scheme and will enter into the contract with BT on behalf of the eight metropolitan boroughs in Greater Manchester: Stockport, Tameside, Oldham, Trafford, Bolton, Rochdale, Wigan and Bury. Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is named as a delivery partner and will be responsible for the day-to-day project management and delivery of the infrastructure programme. 

Manchester and Salford are not included in the rural broadband scheme as they have already received awards to spread the advantages of ultrafast connectivity and digital inclusion, supporting economic growth and job creation, through the separate Urban Fund. 

European Regional Development Fund 

The Greater Manchester Broadband Project is part financed by the North West England 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 www.gov.uk/browse/business/funding-debt/european-regional-development-funding 

Superfast Britain 

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