Blackburn’s ultra-fast broadband to offer £40m business boost

Blackburn’s new gigabit capable broadband network could boost the local economy by up to £40m and generate almost 2,000 jobs, according to a report by Ofcom.

The report, titled The Benefits of Ultrafast Broadband Deployment, concludes that a full-fibre network within a town results in an increase in employment of 2.9%[1] and a boost to local GDP of 1.1%[2].

The roll-out of the IX Wireless broadband network will see 38,000 Blackburn premises connected over the next 24 months, and will be capable of reaching speeds of 6,000 Mbps by 2025.

According to the Ofcom report, the new network will help create more small enterprises, with a significant positive impact on Blackburn businesses that rely on ICT skills, such as in the commerce, service and transport sectors.

The ultra-fast broadband will also provide environmental benefits by allowing more people to do their jobs online from home, reducing the number of commuters on the roads.

The rise of smart houses and the Internet of Things means that the network will allow more people to customise their home’s security, surveillance, energy, healthcare and entertainment systems.

Neil Knighton, communications manager for IX Wireless, said: “The new IX Wireless wireless broadband network will result in Blackburn having some of the fastest internet in the UK.

“As a gigabit capable town, more residents and businesses will be able to take advantage of technology and services that are at the cutting edge of what is possible.

“We are working hard to ensure the new network is rolled out across Blackburn over the next two years and we’re very excited to see the impact this new technology will have on the town.

“We are continuing to work closely with local communities to ensure minimal disruption. If any residents have concerns or questions about work on their street, they can call our helpline on 01254 405 000.”

Delivered by wireless transmitters installed on roof-tops, telecommunication masts, monopoles and street poles, the new network allows residents to get ultra-fast broadband without needing a telephone line.

The initial broadband package offered by 6G Internet will be capped at 100 mbps for £21 per month, but speeds will increase as the network becomes more established.

In addition, the government’s Gigabit Voucher scheme means eligible residents and businesses can have the cost of installation completely subsidised, meaning they pay no connection fee.

However, should businesses require a faster connection straight away, IX Wireless can also install a physical fibre line at half the market price for immediate access to gigabit speeds.

With 6G Internet listed as an approved supplier by the government’s BDUK programme, its expansion in Blackburn comes as part of wider plans to reach four million homes across the UK by 2022.

[1] Pg 61: In Canada, Singer et al. (2015) investigated the effect of FTTP (i.e. full-fibre) rollout on employment on the basis of the deployment experiences in 39 regions between 2009 and 2014. They estimate that fibre deployment to 100% of a region is associated with an increase in employment of about 2.9% – even if the region already previously benefited from a broadband infrastructure.

With 63,500 people in employment in Blackburn, an increase of 2.9% is 1,841 jobs.

 

[2] Pg 74: One of the very few studies to focus on ultrafast broadband specifically, by the Analysis Group (2015) estimated that Gigabit broadband communities in the US exhibited a per-capita GDP approximately 1.1% higher than the 41 similar communities with little to no availability of Gigabit services.

Blackburn’s gross value added (GVA) total for 2017 was £3.05bn. The ONS says that the difference between GDP and GVA can vary by around 0.2%. This means that even by conservative estimates, an 0.9% increase in Blackburn’s GVA would result in a boost of £27.5m to the economy. A 1.3% increase in the GVA would result in a boost of £39.7m.