Liverpool City Council signs £15.9 million contract to bring superfast broadband to 43,000 Merseyside businesses and homes

Fibre broadband could be extended to up to 98 per cent of Merseyside businesses and homes within the next three years, following a multi-million pound partnership project between Merseyside Local Authorities and BT. 

Merseyside Connected – a partnership of five councils led by Liverpool City Council - builds on BT’s on-going commercial fibre deployment across the Liverpool City Region, and aims to provide a high speed broadband network to an additional 43,000 premises in the area. This means the vast majority of Merseyside – around 634,000 homes and businesses – could have access to fibre broadband by the end of July 2016. 

The Merseyside Connected project will also support the council partnership’s aim to focus on enabling superfast broadband to small and medium enterprises and help boost the local economy. The three-year deployment will begin with a period of planning and surveying, before Openreach, BT’s local network business, starts work on the ground in summer 2014. 

BT has been chosen to partner with Liverpool City Council – along with Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Councils - following an extensive and thorough procurement process. BT is contributing £6 million towards the overall cost of deployment in “non-commercial” areas while European funding (ERDF) is contributing £4.4 million, with £5.46 million coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund. 

Mayor of Liverpool and Chair of Liverpool City Region Cabinet, Joe Anderson, said: “The internet is a huge part of everyday life and it is vital that we do not get left behind if we are to compete effectively with the rest of the UK. This investment in infrastructure will make a big difference to businesses and households across the City Region. I am delighted we have been able to sign this deal with BT which means they can crack on with installing the latest technology.” 

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This £15.9m project will deliver an incredible transformation in broadband speeds for thousands of homes and businesses across Merseyside. It will be instrumental in driving growth, boosting the local economy, and achieving the Government’s objective of reaching 95 per cent of all UK premises by 2017.” 

Bill Murphy, managing director NGA for BT, added: “Access to high speed broadband is rapidly becoming a key ingredient for economic growth and a fast and reliable broadband service is as important as good road and rail links for businesses in the modern day. It is also a major determining factor in where businesses decide to locate.” 

“Fibre broadband opens up a whole raft of leading-edge software and applications that could benefit business – allowing them to work more efficiently, for people to work when and where they want, to expand their business offering and connect 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 BBC i-Player or downloading films and music much quicker and without annoying ‘buffering’ or screen freeze. 

New fibre services are set to transform the way consumers use the internet, from the simple sharing of pictures and video to enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available online. It will also open up a host of new learning and development opportunities. 

Engineers for Openreach, BT’s local network business, will build the new fibre infrastructure. Fibre to the Cabinet will be the main technology deployed. This can deliver wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps, and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. Fibre to the Premises technology – delivering ultra-fast wholesale speeds of up to 330Mbps – will start to become available in certain areas and will be available on demand throughout the whole of the fibre footprint in due course should local businesses want the ultra-fast speeds it offers*. 

The new fibre network will be open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis**. Households and businesses in Merseyside will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices from a wide range of service providers. It will also boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for households. 

Notes to editors: 

*80Mbps and 330Mbps are wholesale speeds. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP. 
Openreach has started to make FTTP on demand available in its fibre footprint. Openreach will levy an installation charge but it will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that onto businesses or consumers wishing to take advantage of the product. 

** Wholesale access means that BT must make its broadband infrastructure available to Internet Service Providers to market a range of competitive packages to customers. There are more than 80 service providers currently offering or using fibre services over BT’s network. Households and businesses in the project area will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices from a wide range of service providers. 

About Merseyside Connected 

Merseyside Connected is the partnership programme established to help manage the public procurement and subsequent deployment of the infrastructure for superfast broadband across Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St. Helens and Wirral. The programme is led by Liverpool City Council as the accountable body responsible for the programme. 

The project is working as part of the Government’s national BDUK programme which is operating across the UK. 

About BT 
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach. 

For the year ended 31 March 2013, BT Group’s reported revenue was £18,103m with reported profit before taxation of £2,315m. 

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. 

For more information, visit www.btplc.com 

Enquiries about this news release should be made to the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK dial + 44 20 7356 5369. All news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.bt.com/newscentre 

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 per cent 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 the 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 

The Merseyside Connected project is part financed by the 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.communities.gov.uk/erdf