Dave Hudson, head of partnerships and alliances at full fibre provider ITS Technology Group, discusses the drivers for full fibre, how altnets are playing a vital role in levelling up the North, and shines a light on the Liverpool City Region’s flagship infrastructure project

The North has a proud industrial heritage, and as the next technological revolution takes pace, businesses across this part of the UK are once again driving world-leading innovation across all industry sectors. 

Full fibre’s bringing the North up to speed

Universal access to Gigabit capable broadband and 4/5G mobile connectivity by 2030 is one of the government’s 12 missions to level up the UK. As well as connectivity and infrastructure, having access to ‘London-style’ powers allows regions across the North to apply more targeted spending across a number of key areas including education, transport and housing. Full fibre will underpin the citizens and businesses across our towns and cities, boosting innovation, productivity, output, and inward investment, playing a vital role in our future prosperity.

As the aged copper telecoms networks reach end of life in 2025, the focus on full fibre has intensified. It has created the perfect conditions for a whole new generation of altnet operators, like ITS Technology Group, that are fibre experts from the ‘roots up’, offering a genuine alternative to the incumbents. This community also has significant financial firepower behind it, comparable to the scale of many of BT and Virgin’s investments.

While the full fibre market is young, it more than makes up for this with technical know-how, design, engineering, and delivery capabilities. Collaboration between these network providers is important, and on the wider rollout we’re already seeing a lot more joined up thinking, where different businesses are working together to better serve the end-user.

Building the infrastructure

Headquartered in the North West, we are proud to be driving the digital agenda in our heartland as well as nationally. In the last year, we have significantly increased our full fibre footprint in the North, particularly across Lancashire, Greater Manchester, and Merseyside. We are continuing to substantially increase our Faster Britain networks, with projects in-build spanning the North West and South Yorkshire. Known as ‘Faster Britain’ in the market place, our open access wholesale infrastructure is on track to pass 25% of the UK’s business premises by the end of the year.

One of the most notable infrastructure projects in the North West is the £30m ‘LCR Connect’ digital infrastructure project, born out of a key manifesto pledge by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, designed to drive economic growth and better equip the businesses of the Liverpool City Region.  

LCR Connect is a joint venture, 50%-owned by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA), in partnership with ITS – we are leading on the project – working alongside our construction partner NGE, who is managing the build and roll out of the network. Initially, this new fibre infrastructure will give access to futureproof Gigabit capable services to more than 29k businesses, 29 key business parks, and other key assets across the city region. 

Economic boost

Experts estimate that with 100% full fibre coverage, the economic boost to the Liverpool City Region could be worth up to £1bn, creating thousands of local jobs and training opportunities. As a fundamental part of the LCRCA’s Digital Strategy and Action Plan, it will also encompass wider policies on housing, transport, skills and energy. The 212km full fibre build started last summer and is on track to be completed in early 2023. However, as the network is being commissioned segment by segment along the route, the first customers are already installed and reaping the benefits of LCR Connect’s ultrafast capabilities. 

ITS provides a wholesale network which offers an extensive choice of service providers across many sector specialisms. More than 300 approved partners currently offer access to a wide portfolio of services including ultrafast broadband and cloud services. 

With the right investment, support from the policy makers, wrapped in our tremendous Northern spirit, the digital capabilities of this region of the UK are set to be transformed.

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Want to hear more from ITS Technology Group? Dave Hudson will be speaking at 3.00pm – 3.40pm on Day 1 Connected North‘s Smart North Track on the topic of ‘Digital Infrastructure for Industry Innovation’.

ITS Technology Group’s CEO, Daren Baythorpe, will also be speaking on Day 1’s Closing Keynote session.

For more information about Connected North, click here