Oldham Council and its partners have completed a broadband project which delivers faster speeds to 142 public sector sites.
More than 78km of new fibre optic broadband infrastructure cabling is now in place across the borough, meaning places which have been traditionally hard to reach such as the Castleshaw Centre, Uppermill Library and Greenfield Library are now connected.
Schools, council offices, libraries, children’s centres, fire stations can now access a full fibre network, providing the foundation for improved connectivity across the borough.
As part of the project, several key sites across the borough, including the Civic Centre, Sir Robert Peacock House and the new council office space in Spindles have each received two connections. This ensures that if one of them fails council staff can continue to deliver key services.
Also, three buildings that accommodate homeless Oldham residents are now connected after providers Virgin Media Business carried out installation work free of charge as part of a major digital infrastructure and inclusion programme delivered in the Greater Manchester city-region.
Kerry Reddy, Services Manager for A Bed every Night, said: “Providing wi-fi connectivity to the properties has been really helpful.
“It has allowed staff to work more efficiently and effectively with occupants for example, helping them log into their universal credit accounts and add information to their journals, to access the council’s housing register to place bids on social housing, and so much more.
“All of these possibilities help promote independence so that when the residents move on from temporary accommodation the chance of them sustaining their tenancies is significantly higher.
“Without the wi-fi, we found it was hard for residents to cope especially during the pandemic. Lack of internet was effectively another barrier for them to overcome.
“We also found that residents were more upbeat and engaging because they had the ability to do more during a very stressful time in their lives. We understand that homelessness can be a very traumatic experience for many people so by creating a comfortable and interactive environment for them to thrive, we were able to capitalise on positive outcomes.”
Councillor Shaid Mushtaq, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, said: “The last two years have been challenging for everyone – but our staff, the contractors and Virgin Media Business have ploughed on and got this project finished.
“More and more people have now returned to offices and their places of work. A better digital infrastructure and high-speed connectivity is an essential requirement to help us deliver better services to residents.
“This rollout of high-speed fibre lays the foundation for us to create a more comprehensive digital infrastructure across the borough.
“It will allow us to integrate gigabit connectivity in new development opportunities across the borough and will also play a big part in our plans to regenerate Oldham Town Centre. Faster broadband in the Spindles means once all our staff move over there they can provide a quicker service to residents.”
The Oldham scheme is part of the UK’s largest public sector Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme: a £23.8m investment across Greater Manchester.
Across the region, 97 per cent of the network was provided via existing ducting, meaning work took place with minimal disruption.
The scheme was jointly funded by the Government’s local full fibre network programme, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and existing local authority investments in digital infrastructure.