Blackburn families offered free broadband to help during pandemic

Blackburn families are being connected to free superfast broadband to help ensure pupils and their parents can access online support during COVID-19.

Thanks to a partnership between 6G Internet and , families without home internet are provided with free connections and equipment.

Part of 6G Internet’s commitment to donate 20% of its network to social causes, the scheme aims to give pupils the best chance of progressing at school while they’re stuck at home, while also offering families more opportunities to access support during the lockdown.

Keyworker Nathan Morrison has two sons and was connected to 6G Internet after being contacted by Longshaw Community Junior School, where his eldest, Franklin, 10, attends.

He said: “We’ve always used our phone data at home for our laptop, but it was extremely slow and the data would always run out so quickly.

“Since we’ve had the broadband connection it’s made a massive difference during lockdown. Franklin loves playing outside so it was tough before – but the kids are much happier now.

“Franklin has been able to learn from the school’s website and research projects online. He’s recently been learning about the fashions from different eras like the Tudors and Victorians and he loves it.

“It’s also been a life saver for keeping them entertained while we’re stuck at home.”

The scheme has also helped the family of two boys attending St Michael With St John CE primary school in the centre of Blackburn.

Their father said: “We have never had the internet before, I don’t really know how to use a laptop. But we recognised that as our boys were in school they would need it for online homework.

“I was worried that they would fall behind without it. Since we’ve had the connection from 6G Internet the boys have really enjoyed doing maths games via the school’s website.

“Now I’m trying to learn how to use it myself – I’m hoping to learn through my children.”

Ian Clough, head of digital social inclusion at 6G Internet, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus just how important an internet connection is. Home broadband can be a lifeline if you’re self-isolating and is vital to help pupils access their school work, which is why we are working with schools, charities and other agencies to get families connected at this difficult time.

“However this is wider issue than simply the impacts of lockdown. 6G is committed to a long term aim of ensuring that neither cost nor long term contract is a barrier to a basic internet connection at home.”

Organisations interested in partnering with 6G Internet can enquire at https://www.6gdsi.co.uk/contact

Blackburn pupils offered free home internet for schoolwork

Blackburn pupils who can’t get online at home are being offered free broadband and computer equipment thanks to a scheme run by 6G Internet.

As part of a trial with Sacred Heart RC Primary School, Lancashire-based 6G Internet is connecting families to free basic home broadband, with refurbished laptops provided by Blackburn Rovers Community Trust.

The free internet permits 1 GB of data per day and allows unlimited usage between 4-8pm on weekdays and 9am-9pm on weekends to help children do their homework.

Abdul Rehman, 4, and Imtisal Rehman, 5, both attend Sacred Heart and are some of the first children to benefit from the scheme. Their mother, Rabia Naveed, said that she and her husband had never previously been online at home.

She said: “We don’t have much experience with the internet but we both realised that it was important for the children – this is the first time we’ve had access to a computer in six years.

“Education-wise it’s much more fun for Abdul and Imtisal and it’s easier to keep them interested. We’ve downloaded some maths and English games which help the children memorise things much faster.”

According to the ONS, 700,000 children cannot access the internet via laptop or tablet at home in the UK, 68% of whom have said they struggle to do homework as a result. In addition, a further 60,000 having no home internet access at all.

6G is currently expanding across the North West and will serve around 4 million households within the next few years, with the free internet provided as part of 6G’s commitment to donating 20% of its network to achieve positive social change.

Ian Clough, digital social inclusion lead for 6G Internet, said: “Having no internet access at home  doesn’t just mean children struggle to do homework, it makes it more difficult for families to access government services like Universal Credit, find jobs, manage money, book appointments or find the best deals on everyday essentials. Things that many of us take for granted.

“In Blackburn we were fortunate enough to receive some recycled computers from Blackburn Rovers Community Trust which meant that not only were families connected to the internet, they also had the means to get the most out of the connection. I’m hoping that we can replicate that kind of partnership throughout Lancashire.

“We are really pleased with the outcome of our trial with Sacred Heart and we are now offering to help schools across Blackburn, Preston, Blackpool and Bolton.

“I believe that we can help Lancashire become the first area of the UK where no school aged children are missing out on being able to access the internet at home because of cost or long term contracts.”

Schools or charities can register their interest in the scheme at www.6gdsi.co.uk/contact

Lancashire takes first steps towards gigabit internet

Lancashire broadband network IX Wireless has begun the roll-out of new ultra-fast internet in a number of towns throughout the county, following the success of its initial launch in Blackburn in June.

The work is part of plans to create some the UK’s first ‘gigabit-capable’ towns in Lancashire, meaning residents will soon be able to access internet speeds of 1,000 Mbps as standard, increasing to 6,000 Mbps by 2025.

Phase 1 of the roll-out will cover parts of Hyndburn, Preston and Blackburn, with other areas set to follow soon.

Accrington will be covered across approximately half a square mile between Queen’s Road in the north and Askrigg Close and Pinewood Drive in the East, down to Nelson St and Wellington St in the south.

Around 1.5 square miles in the centre of Preston will also be covered, between Blackpool Road in the north and Tulketh Road in the west, reaching Ring Way and the A6 in the centre of town. In addition, houses on both sides of Ribbleton Lane and New Hall Lane will also enjoy access to the new network.

In Blackburn, the roll-out already covers 1.5 square miles between the A6119 in the north and the A677 in the west, down to the A674 from Wilton Park to Barton Street and the B6232 in the centre of town.

More than 12,000 premises are set to benefit from Phase 1 of the new wireless broadband network by October 2019, with IX Wireless’ partner 6G Internet responsible for delivering internet services to residents and businesses.

The installation marks the first time ultra-fast speeds will be available to the towns without the months of roadworks and disruption associated with laying fibre-optic cable in the ground.

Instead, users will simply be able to install a small receiver on their building which will pick up the broadband signal via radio wave, broadcast at the speed of light by IX Wireless’s transmitters.

Neil Knighton, communications manager for IX Wireless, said: “This is an exciting first step for both IX Wireless and Lancashire in creating some of the UK’s first truly gigabit-capable towns. 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.”

How one little boy changed the way a company operates

10 year old Muhammad-Raihan is profoundly autistic, and when a telegraph pole suddenly appeared outside his house, it threw him and his family into chaos.

“Raihan is non-verbal and has severe sensory issues,” explains his mother, Samiya Master. “He struggles to deal with even the smallest change in his routine. Raihan was terrified of the pole. He couldn’t sleep, which meant his siblings couldn’t either.

“Every night after the pole appeared, Raihan would wake up every hour and run into our room to look out of the window and check that it was still there.

“He wouldn’t play in the garden or even come out of the house – we had to bring him in and out through the back door.”

Raihan’s father, Imtiyaz Master, adds that one of the biggest problems was that they didn’t have any time to prepare him.

“No one knocked on our door or sent us a letter to tell us what was happening,” he says. “We have to work for months or even years to get Raihan accustomed to any upcoming change. If we’d been spoken to beforehand we could have at least talked to him about it.”

The telegraph pole belonged to Lancashire company IX Wireless, who had installed it as part of its roll-out of Blackburn’s first ultrafast broadband network.

Joanne Kay, a project coordinator at IX Wireless, was one of the first employees to speak to the family.

“As a private company, we made sure we followed the letter of the law when it came to communicating with residents about the installation of our telegraph poles,” explains Joanne.

“We had put up notices and signs on the street before work began, but after we spoke to the Master family in more detail, we realised that this wasn’t enough.

“We’d never considered the impact these sorts of changes can have on someone with severe additional needs such as Raihan.

“When the family asked if it was possible to move the pole, I don’t think they held out much hope. They were just desperate to bring a sense of normalcy back into their household.”

With the little boy continuing to struggle to sleep, his doctors doubled his medication. It resulted in Raihan still getting only three or four hours’ rest per night, sleeping with his knees hunched up tight to his chest.

“Between the ages of two and six, Raihan stopped sleeping completely,” says Samiya. “He cried and screamed all night for four years. We were petrified that the pole might make him regress back into not sleeping again.”

Meanwhile, Joanne returned to her bosses at IX Wireless and explained the family’s predicament.

“Installing telegraph poles can often cause consternation with residents, but the more we spoke to the family, the clearer it became that these were exceptional circumstances,” she says. “We consulted with the National Autistic Society, which was very supportive of the family’s position.

“In the end, our MD agreed that in this case we would be failing in our own values if we didn’t do something about it. So we contacted Blackburn council and obtained permission to relocate the pole away from the family’s home.”

For the Master family, it was a major relief after a difficult few years of supporting their little boy with all his additional needs.

“Raihan is our miracle baby,” says Samiya. “I had a traumatic pregnancy, with serious complications throughout.  My faith helped carry me through, but we were told that there would be some consequences for Raihan.

“We feel that his autism was probably the result of the difficulties during pregnancy, but it’s impossible to prove with any certainty.

“I don’t know how “normal” families do things, but we have to plan ahead for everything. He is now moving into year six at school, where he has to wear a different coloured sweater.

“We have been working with him and the school for the last year to get him comfortable with even this change and it is still incredibly hard for him to deal with it.”

Imtiyaz says: “We really want to extend our thanks to Joanne at IX Wireless. She told us that she would do everything in her power to help us and they were not just empty words.

“I know it probably sounds like the pole was a small change to other people, but it made such a difference to Raihan’s wellbeing. Now it’s been moved he is a much happier, relaxed little boy, which means the family is more relaxed too – we will never forget what the company has done for us.”

Joanne says: “Our experience the Master family has taught us a huge amount about how we communicate with residents while we expand our network.

“We have completely changed our communications strategy and now employ community liaison officers to work directly with residents on the streets where we will be operating.

“I was really pleased that we were able to help Raihan and his family – you never really think about the impact you can make until it’s right in front of you.”

Salford set to get the fastest broadband network in the UK

Residents in Salford will be some of the first in the UK to access the next generation of ultrafast broadband, which will be delivered wirelessly and capable of reaching speeds of 6,000 Mbps by 2025.

According to a 2018 report by Ofcom, a comprehensive ultrafast network could mean an additional 4,000 jobs and a £69 million boost to Salford’s economy.

The initial roll-out will see 4,000 premises connected to the network over the next four months, with plans to further increase coverage as the network expands.

The new wireless network is being constructed by Lancashire-based company IX Wireless as part of its expansion throughout the North West, with the broadband delivered to consumers and businesses by internet service provider 6G Internet.

Neil Knighton, communications manager for IX Wireless, said: “The new IX Wireless wireless broadband network will result in Salford 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 over the next two years and we’re very excited to see the impact this new technology will have.”

Because the new network is delivered by wireless transmitters installed on roof-tops, telecommunication masts, monopoles and street poles, there will be very few road closures or disruptions commonly associated with digging up roads to lay fibre-optic cables. It also means that residents will be able to get ultrafast broadband without needing a telephone line.

And as part of work to ensure everyone can enjoy the benefits of being online, 6G Internet is also donating 20% of its network usage to social causes. This means less well-off residents will be able to access free basic internet, while the local authority, schools and charities can work with 6G to provide digitally excluded children with daily access to high speed unlimited home internet.

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

Phil Walker, director of finance at 6G Internet, said: “Over the last 15 years, billions of pounds have been invested in research and development for wireless broadband technology. NASA uses it to communicate with its Mars rover, Tesla’s cars use it to update and navigate. Now we are using it to make sure people in Salford can access the internet faster and cheaper than anywhere else in the UK.”

Salford joins Blackburn, Bolton, Accrington, Preston, Blackpool and Manchester as the first towns to be connected to the IX Wireless ultrafast network.

Manchester set to get the fastest broadband network in the UK

Residents in Manchester will be some of the first in the UK to access the next generation of ultrafast broadband, which will be delivered wirelessly and capable of reaching speeds of 6,000 Mbps by 2025.

According to a 2018 report by Ofcom, a comprehensive ultrafast network could mean more than 8,000 additional jobs and a £200 million boost to Manchester’s economy.

The initial roll-out will see 3,300 premises connected to the network over the next four months, with plans to further increase coverage as the network expands.

The new wireless network is being constructed by Lancashire-based company IX Wireless as part of its expansion throughout the North West.

The broadband will be delivered to consumers and businesses by internet service provider 6G Internet, with speeds starting at 100 Mbps and set to increase as the network becomes more established.

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

“As a gigabit capable city, 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 over the next two years and we’re very excited to see the impact this new technology will have.”

Because the new network is delivered by wireless transmitters installed on roof-tops, telecommunication masts, monopoles and street poles, there will be very few road closures or disruptions commonly associated with digging up roads to lay fibre-optic cables. It also means that residents will be able to get ultrafast broadband without needing a telephone line.

And as part of work to ensure everyone can enjoy the benefits of being online, 6G Internet is also donating 20% of its network usage to social causes. This means less well-off residents will be able to access free basic internet, while the local authority, schools and charities can work with 6G to provide digitally excluded children with daily access to high speed unlimited home internet.

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

Phil Walker, director of finance at 6G Internet, said: “Over the last 15 years, billions of pounds have been invested in research and development for wireless broadband technology. NASA uses it to communicate with its Mars rover, Tesla’s cars use it to update and navigate. Now we are using it to make sure people in Manchester can access the internet faster and cheaper than anywhere else in the UK.”

Manchester joins Blackburn, Bolton, Accrington, Preston, Blackpool and Salford as the first towns to be connected to the IX Wireless ultrafast network.

Blackburn partnership tackles digital exclusion

 Two Blackburn community centres will now be able to offer hundreds of residents better access to the digital world thanks to a partnership between 6G Internet, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust and CVS.

Accrington Road Community Centre in Audley Range and ACT at the Cheethams on Lawrence Street both provide essential services to their local communities and act as a shared environment for a huge number of community groups.

To ensure their users can enjoy the full benefits of being online, 6G Internet has connected both centres to permanently free broadband, saving each centre around £18,000 in installation and equipment costs over the next five years alone.

In addition, Blackburn Rovers Community Trust and local IT support company Nybble have committed to providing refurbished computer equipment, with CVS also set to deliver training to upskill internet users.

Ian Clough, digital social inclusion lead at 6G Internet, said: “Internet access is no longer a luxury, it is essential for anyone who wants to look for a job, find the best deals on finance or utilities or stay in contact with friends and family.

“For families where money is especially tight, not having internet access can impact on their budgets, social lives and education. Through our partnership, we want to make sure more people have the connection, equipment and skills to make sure this is no longer a problem.”

Accrington Road manager Kay Kareem, said: “There are people from lot of backgrounds and cultures who use the centre and at some point they all need access to the internet. Not only is 6G Internet’s connection completely free, but they also installed access points that boost the signal so it reaches every room. Now our user groups are able to do far more than they could previously.”

ACT at Cheethams manager Sinclair Morris said: “We are a private charity. Any costs that we incur take money away from what we can invest in the local community. The money we’re now saving can be put towards things like art materials, local events and days out for families. It gives us a lot more options.”

In addition to helping more users who are looking for work, the biggest benefit has been felt by the centres’ homework clubs, which help children without home internet complete their assignments.

Sinclair said: “The internet has basically become a necessity. We have a lot of older kids who come in to do their GCSE work and we use it to help engage young people with both education and job prospects.”

“We have about 30 children and young people who come to Accrington Road throughout the week,” said Kay. “They range from primary school age to sixth form college students and we make sure that they can do their work in a safe and friendly environment.”

Councillor Maryam Batan, elected member for Accrington Road’s Audley and Queens Park Ward, said:  “I think the work that 6G Internet is doing is really good. Accrington Road is used by groups from across the borough and not everyone has internet access at home.

“This type of social inclusion is extremely important for young people and older generations, who can now be introduced to some of the fantastic things about being online that many of us take for granted.”

Garth Hodgkinson, chief executive of Community CVS said: “It is great to be supporting these two community venues, which are run entirely through voluntary effort.  Grassroots groups like Accrington Road Community Centre and Act at the Cheethams make such a massive difference to people’s lives.

“We would encourage everyone to get involved in supporting local community groups in their own neighbourhoods in whatever way they can.”

Councillor Quesir Mahmood, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s executive member for digital and customer services: “This is a fantastic scheme for the residents in our borough.The introduction of new digital technologies across all areas of our lives has fundamentally changed how we do things – including how we all access services.

“As a council, we are driving forward our Digital Strategy and a key part of that is tackling digital exclusion in our borough. Schemes like this will help make a big difference to our communities and I’d like to thank everyone involved for their hard work.”

Accrington takes first steps towards gigabit internet

Lancashire broadband network IX Wireless has begun the roll-out of Hyndburn’s new ultra-fast internet, with the west side of Accrington first to benefit from the new infrastructure.

Phase 1 of the roll-out will cover approximately half a square mile between Queen’s Road in the north and Askrigg Close and Pinewood Drive in the East, down to Nelson St and Wellington St in the south.

Workmen will begin installing the network on Burnley Road, with more than 4,000 premises set to benefit from Phase 1 of the new wireless broadband by October 2019.

IX Wireless plans to complete the majority of work within the next five months, with its partner 6G Internet responsible for delivering internet services to residents and businesses.

The work is part of plans to make Hyndburn one of the UK’s first ‘gigabit-capable’ towns, meaning residents will soon be able to access internet speeds of more than 1,000 Mbps as standard, increasing to 6,000 Mbps by 2025.

The installation of the IX Wireless network marks the first time ultra-fast speeds will be available to a town without the months of roadworks and disruption associated with laying fibre-optic cable in the ground.

Instead, users will simply be able to install a small receiver on their building which will pick up the broadband signal via radio wave, broadcast at the speed of light by IX Wireless’s transmitters.

Neil Knighton, communications manager for IX Wireless, said: “This is an exciting first step for both IX Wireless and Hyndburn in creating one of the UK’s first truly gigabit-capable towns. 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.”

Preston takes first steps towards gigabit internet

Lancashire broadband network IX Wireless has begun the roll-out of Preston’s new ultra-fast internet, with the centre and east of the town first to benefit from the new infrastructure.

Phase 1 of the roll-out will cover approximately 1.5 square miles in the centre of Preston, between Blackpool Road in the north and Tulketh Road in the west, reaching Ring Way and the A6 in the centre of town. In addition, houses on both sides of Ribbleton Lane and New Hall Lane will also enjoy access to the new network.

Workmen will begin installing the network on Great Townley Street and Great Shaw Street, with some houses and businesses in the area able to connect immediately. In total, more than 6,000 premises are set to benefit from Phase 1 of the new wireless broadband by October 2019.

IX Wireless plans to complete the majority of work within the next five months, with its partner 6G Internet responsible for delivering internet services to residents and businesses.

The work is part of plans to make Preston one of the UK’s first ‘gigabit-capable’ towns, meaning residents will soon be able to access internet speeds of more than 1,000 Mbps as standard, increasing to 6,000 Mbps by 2025.

The installation of the IX Wireless network marks the first time ultra-fast speeds will be available to a town without the months of roadworks and disruption associated with laying fibre-optic cable in the ground.

Instead, users will simply be able to install a small receiver on their building which will pick up the broadband signal via radio wave, broadcast at the speed of light by IX Wireless’s transmitters.

Neil Knighton, communications manager for IX Wireless, said: “This is an exciting first step for both IX Wireless and Preston in creating one of the UK’s first truly gigabit-capable towns. 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.”

Blackpool set to get the fastest broadband network in the UK

Residents in Blackpool will be some of the first in the UK to access the next generation of ultrafast broadband, which will be delivered wirelessly and capable of reaching speeds of 6,000 Mbps by 2025.

According to a 2018 report by Ofcom, a comprehensive ultrafast network could also mean an additional 1,900 jobs and a £26 million boost to Blackpool’s economy.

The initial roll-out will see 6,800 premises connected to the network over the next four months, with plans to further increase coverage as the network expands.

The new wireless network is being constructed by Lancashire-based company IX Wireless, while the broadband is being delivered to consumers and businesses by internet service provider 6G Internet.

Neil Knighton, communications manager for IX Wireless, said: “The new IX Wireless wireless broadband network will result in Blackpool 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 over the next two years and we’re very excited to see the impact this new technology will have.”

Because the new network is delivered by wireless transmitters installed on roof-tops, telecommunication masts, monopoles and street poles, there will be very few road closures or disruptions commonly associated with digging up roads to lay fibre-optic cables. It also means that residents will be able to get ultrafast broadband without needing a telephone line.

And as part of work to ensure everyone can enjoy the benefits of being online, 6G Internet is also donating 20% of its network usage to social causes. This means less well-off residents will be able to access free basic internet, while the local authority, schools and charities can work with 6G to provide digitally excluded children with daily access to high speed unlimited home internet.

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

Phil Walker, director of finance at 6G Internet, said: “Over the last 15 years, billions of pounds have been invested in research and development for wireless broadband technology. NASA uses it to communicate with its Mars rover, Tesla’s cars use it to update and navigate. Now we are using it to make sure people in Blackpool can access the internet faster and cheaper than anywhere else in the UK.”