Lancashire-based ISP The Networking People has won a £3.2 million contract with Blackpool Council to provide a high-capacity broadband network that will serve up to six North West local authorities, as well as 100 schools, libraries, business incubator sites and public buildings.

The Networking People (TNP) will design and build the wide area network (WAN) and Blackpool Council will be the “custodian” of the infrastructure, which promises to provide resilient, secure connectivity to the town and surrounding regions.

As part of the five-year managed services contract, TNP will make use of a range of technologies, including Local Loop Unbundling (LLU), private fibre infrastructure, microwave radio and existing council assets, to reduce costs for the council.

It will also assist the council to comply with the PSN Technical Interoperability requirements and GCSX, PCI DSS and ISO 27001 standards.

“TNP’s solution will modernise how the council delivers services to the public and it is an enabler for huge efficiencies that we can channel into other key areas,” said Tony Doyle, head of ICT Services at Blackpool Council.

“TNP really impressed us with their understanding of our existing infrastructure – where we could use Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) and where we needed other technologies. They are not just a supplier of our connectivity, they complement and support our in-house team and exceed our service level agreement at every opportunity.”

In line with central government’s Digital by Default agenda, which recognises the need to enhance public internet services, libraries and leisure centres will be able to open up this high-speed broadband service to the general public via WiFi.

Schools will have the option to connect to the network, as well as to migrate to the latest cloud-based services such as Google Apps and Microsoft 365. Web-based phone systems will also be installed, virtually eliminating schools' and the council’s phone bills, according to TNP.

“This partnership is allowing the council to make significant savings at a time when the cost of telecoms is going up,” said Councillor Chris Maughan, Cabinet Member for Technology.

“It is also providing the town with resilient and secure connectivity that is completely under our control to grow and adapt as we do.”

The network will be rolled out over the next six months, with TNP continuing to develop and manage the service over the next five years. The framework will allow for at least six other Lancashire councils to collaborate and join the network at any time.