Community sites in Greater Manchester receive free fiber connectivity Prolific North

A total of 17 community sites across Greater Manchester – including homeless shelters, charities and community centers – are benefiting from free fiber broadband connectivity until 2025.

Free fiber is part of a major digital infrastructure and inclusion program from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Virgin Media Business. Community sites have been connected to the UK’s largest public sector Full Fiber Local Area Network (LFFN) scheme, which started in March 2020 and is now coming to an end.

Deeplish Community Center in Rochdale is one of the sites with free fiber connectivity. Its Chief Operating Officer, Sohail Ahmad, said: “Free fiber optic broadband at the Deeplish Community Center is improving people’s prospects and breaking down the barriers of digital exclusion compounded during the pandemic. Without our site’s improved connectivity, many members of our community would be excluded from today’s digital society.

GMCA has partnered with Virgin Media Business to install 2,700km of new fiber optic broadband infrastructure in the city area under the LFFN scheme. This has included connecting over 150 children’s centres, 97 school sites and 70 libraries.

The deal also included a number of bold investments in social value initiatives that support Greater Manchester’s digital plan and help tackle digital exclusion in the region – up to 1.2 million people in the Greater Manchester could be one way or another excluded from the benefits that digital brings. These initiatives included providing free full fiber optic broadband to the Deeplish Community Center and 16 other community sites, as well as connecting over 1,500 public sector sites to the full fiber optic network.

Councilor Eamonn O’Brien, leader of Bury Council and GMCA’s head of education, skills, work, learning and digital, said: “In Greater Manchester, we are ensuring that everyone, regardless of age, location or circumstance, can benefit from the digital opportunities it brings. This program has set a standard and a legacy for industry, the public sector and communities as we equip the region with the infrastructure it needs to become a world-class digital city region.

The LFFN program has also served as a catalyst for Virgin Media Business to become more committed to societal value within local communities, exploring how private and public sector organizations can work together to tackle the level-up agenda. community and promoting digital inclusion. The organization says it will continue to work with GMCA on upcoming digital skills and confidence pilots and other initiatives to help bridge the digital divide in the region.