EXTRA efforts have been pledged to bring ‘superfast’ broadband to parts of East Lancashire which are currently not destined to be reached by a £130million communications initiative.
County and borough council bosses and BT hope that eventually 97 per cent of Lancashire will have access to high-speed fibre broadband as part of its Superfast Lancashire scheme.
And Steve Edwards, director of BT’s Next Generation Access north division, has confirmed to county councillors that places like Samlesbury and Gisburn, not currently covered as part of the programme, may still benefit.
Mr Edwards told a county council executive meeting: “We are looking at additional things which we can do to get through to these communities.”
Another area previously not included in the original specifications – Dunsop Bridge, near Clitheroe – would now be covered, he added.
The Enterprise Zone, at Samlesbury, would be covered under a different exchange, he explained, which did not extend to residential properties in the nearby village.
He confirmed that to date, 300 cabinets had been installed across the county, providing access to high-speed broadband for 370,000 homes, including properties in parts of Blackburn, Bacup, Accrington, Nelson and Burnley.
Under the next phase of the scheme’s roll-out, by the end of June, more areas of Burnley, Belmont, Barnoldswick, Salterforth, Whitworth, Shawforth, Mellor, Mellor Brook, Ribchester, Bolton-by-Bowland and West Bradford should be covered.
County councillors were told that BT’s break-even figure for broadband take-up was 20 per cent of properties – the current level is 7.6 per cent.
If 30 per cent of potential customers signed up, £4million would be ‘reinvested’ back into the programme by BT, said Mr Edwards, and this figure would reach £9million if 50 per cent took up the ‘superfast’ option.
County council leader Jennifer Mein said: “Everyone will agree that this is a really positive picture and the ambition to have 97 per cent of the county covered is a big achievement.”