North promised broadband cable network

Omne communications has signed a deal that will help to bring cable broadband to Cumbria, Lancashire and south-west Scotland
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Alcatel announced on Thursday that it has signed a deal with digital services provider omne communications to assist in the launch of a high-speed network in the north of England and southern Scotland.

The £28m deal will see Alcatel supplying network equipment needed for the construction of a high-speed data network in an area that is currently being largely left behind by Broadband Britain.

Omne communications is planning to construct a cable network between South Glasgow and Lancaster -- incorporating Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Cumbria and Morecambe. The company will provide high-speed Internet access, digital TV and telephone services -- and plans to offer these services to 325,000 homes and 25,000 business.

Construction work -- digging trenches and laying cables -- started last month in Lancaster. The network is expected to take three years to construct, and Ayrshire towns such as Ayr, Troon, Prestwick, Maybole and Girvan should be online within 18 months.

According to Alcatel, it is important for a company such as omne communications to provide as many services as possible in order to recoup the considerable cost of building a new network. "Aggressive service providers like omne insist on maximising their capital investment by offering as many revenue generating services as possible over a single network infrastructure," said Andy Tempest, Alcatel UK's vice president of sales.

The area that omne communications is targeting is one where many residents and firms cannot obtain broadband today, or in the near future.

BT has ADSL-enabled over 1,000 exchanges, but these are mostly located in densely populated areas such as London and Manchester. Cable provider ntl has a network in north-east England -- in and around Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesborough -- but has not yet reached towns in the north west such as Carlisle.

Technology such as Broadband Fixed Wireless (BFW) was supposed to be one way of bringing high-speed Internet services to rural areas -- but the government is struggling to find buyers for BFW licences.

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