Superfast broadband engineers take special care to safeguard historic Roman site

Installation of new fibre broadband cable supervised by archaeologist

A well-known Roman archaeological site posed an additional challenge for engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, when they were working to bring superfast broadband to the Lancashire village of Ribchester.

The engineering team had to gain permission from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in order to dig a trench and install a new fibre cable at the Ribchester Roman Fort for the multi million pound Superfast Lancashire programme.

The dig, which took two days and was supervised by an archaeologist, uncovered some small pieces of Roman pottery and part of a wall from a Roman building on the playing fields of the site.

Thanks to the work, a further 350 households and businesses in Ribchester will by the end of next month be able to access superfast ‘fibre to the premises’ broadband capable of delivering download speeds of up to 300Mbps. This is in addition to the 500 premises already with access to fibre through three green fibre cabinets installed in the village, all thanks to the Superfast Lancashire programme.

Chris Healey from Minerva Heritage, said: “The latest dig here was in a new area that hadn’t been looked at before. What we have recorded means that we can be confident that the remains of Roman buildings are likely to be encountered at a certain depth, if any more work is planned in the future.”

Mark Chamberlain, BT’s Superfast Lancashire programme manager, said: “We took special care to ensure the features of this historically important site were safeguarded by working closely with the archaeologist.

“In total, we are laying over 670km of cable to bring high-speed broadband to more than 146,000 Lancashire homes and businesses. This more unusual dig to lay the fibre cable in the ground shows just one of the engineering challenges we come across in carrying out this sort of work. “

Lancashire County Councillor Sean Serridge, the county council's Champion for Digital Inclusion, said: "It's great news that even more people in Ribchester will have access to superfast broadband.As well as the leisure and entertainment options a high-speed connection brings, it is ever more important in opening up access to educational and work-related opportunities.We are committed to ensuring that as many people as possible have access to what is increasingly becoming an essential service."

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. When complete, 97 percent of the county will have been brought within reach of the high-speed fibre broadband.

Fibre to the premises technology is being deployed in certain areas, but fibre to the cabinet is the main technology being deployed under the project. This will deliver download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps.

The Openreach network is open to all broadband service providers on an equal wholesale basis.When an area has gone ‘live’ for fibre, people need to opt for an upgrade from a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 now operating in the UK.

At home, fibre broadband means everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in a few minutes; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. It will also improve access to new job opportunities, and make it easier to shop around for cheaper services.

The benefits are also considerable for businesses, which can do much more in far less time. Firms can speed up file and data transfers, work with colleagues and customers on conference or video calls or swap their hardware and expensive software licenses for files, processing power and software from cloud computing. Staff can work as effectively from home as they would in the office

Press contacts

Issued by the BT regional press office and Lancashire County Council press office. For more information please contact Graham Taylor at BT regional press office on 0800 085 0660 or graham.2.taylor@bt.com , or Andy Swain at Lancashire County Council press office on 01772 532781, email: andy.swain@lancashire.gov.uk

All BT news releases can be accessed at: http://www.bt.com/newscentre

Notes to Editors

Ribchester Roman Fort is a Roman town. There have been over 19,000 excavations there already. The most significant find was the bronze cavalry helmet discovered in 1976. Only three helmets of its type have been found in Britain. The helmet was voted ‘Britain’s 2nd best Roman find’ according to a website poll by Channel 4’s Time Team programme in 2010.

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

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For the year ended 31 March 2015, BT Group’s reported revenue was £17,979mwith reported profit before taxation of £2,645m.

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