Ultrafast broadband plan for city

An ultrafast broadband network could be created in Liverpool city centre using existing ducts under the streets owned by the council.

Following a request from Mayor Joe Anderson, Liverpool City Council is asking for expressions of interest from broadband providers in renting space in the network of piping beneath the roads which are used by the city for cabling for traffic signals and police communications.

It would mean that broadband providers would not have the expense of digging up roads and pavements to create their own ducts, while the city council would benefit from rental income and a share of the revenue.

Councillor Gary Millar, Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Investment, said: “I know from my discussions with potential investors that the city is losing out on investment and business growth because of a perception about broadband speeds in the city simply not being fast enough.

“We also need existing businesses to be able to take advantage of faster speeds to handle growing needs and enable them to win more contracts and custom. As well as supporting existing firms, it will also help us attract new businesses to the city.

“We have exciting times ahead of us and in this case our ambition is to be fast, really fast and if possible as ultra fast as technology allows – and with the help of providers make it as low cost as it can possibly be.”

Other places in the country that have implemented something similar include Bristol.

Councillor James Noakes, Mayoral Lead for Energy and Smart City, said: “We are making progress in connecting some parts of the city to superfast broadband through the Merseyside Connected programme but we believe this could be a game changer and give us world class connection speeds.

“It would assist in employment generation by attracting new companies and business, and we would be looking to the provider to work with us on developing the broadband and ICT skills and capabilities of the city’s workforce, as well as addressing digital exclusion and promoting the use of broadband.”

Following market testing, it is expected a procurement exercise will be carried out in September and that a long term contract could be awarded by the end of the year.