The Liverpool City Region has announced the launch of a new £30m partnership to deliver ultrafast digital infrastructure that will help make the region the most digitally connected area in the UK and ultimately lead to a £1 billion boost to the local economy.
Work has already begun on a 212km full fibre, gigabit-capable network infrastructure that will help position the region at the head of the next digital revolution.
When complete, it will put city region businesses in a prime position to lead the way in a host of growing sectors, including health and life sciences, artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing.
Once complete, the full fibre infrastructure will be capable of delivering speeds of 1,000mbps and beyond and will generate an initial economic boost £105m for the local economy.
The LCR Digital Infrastructure Project is a joint venture half-owned by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority in partnership with a technology firm, who will lead the project, as well as a construction firm, who are managing the build and roll out of the network.
Alongside existing local digital infrastructure, the new fibre optic network will help position the city region as a world leader in digital technology.
Experts estimate that with 100% full fibre coverage across the area, building on this network, the economic boost could be worth up to £1bn, creating thousands of local jobs and training opportunities.
In its initial phase, the consortium will create a resilient fibre ‘backhaul network’, connecting three transatlantic cables and major economic clusters in each of the Liverpool City Region’s six local authority areas of Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral.
Digital infrastructure will be installed in carriageways, footpaths and cycleways across the city region over the next two years, using innovative deployment techniques to minimise the impact on road and public transport users wherever possible.
Commenting, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram said: “When I was elected, I made it a priority to make our region the most digitally connected anywhere in the country. Today we take a major step towards that, with the launch of this exciting partnership.
“Our region was at the heart of the first industrial revolution and I believe that this project can help us be at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution, creating thousands of jobs and ultimately generating £1bn for the local economy.
“It will make us leaders in the industries of tomorrow and will help us attract talent and investment from around the world as others look to take advantage of our skills, infrastructure and expertise.
“Local people and businesses will feel the benefits too, in the form of significantly faster speeds, as well as the jobs and training opportunities, although the government still needs to tackle the problem of digital exclusion. Best of all, it will all be 50% owned by us, so we can continue to reap the benefits for years to come.
“As we have done so many times before, this is our region seizing the initiative, leading the way and crafting what I hope will be a lucrative and successful new future that everybody in our region can benefit from.”
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Digital Connectivity and Inclusion Portfolio Holder and Leader of St Helens Council, Councillor David Baines said: “Being digitally connected is more important for our region than ever before, so I am pleased we are moving at pace with this important work.
“This is a transformational project, one which will not only help our city region recover from Covid-19, but help us rebuild our economy better than before. Gigabit-capable connectivity creates a huge opportunity for those living and working in all six of our boroughs through attracting global companies and industries and creating more jobs.”