Bolton will be one of the first places in the country to receive a state-of-the-art wireless broadband network, which could massively boost jobs and the economy.

Tom Molloy reports.

TWO Lancashire-based technology companies have pledged to deliver cutting-edge, ultra-fast broadband to 5,000 homes and businesses in Bolton.

Preston-based Internexus and Burnley company 6G Internet are working together to roll the technology out in the next four months.

They believe that by 2025, their broadband will be able to reach speeds of six gigabits per second (Gbps) - approximately 15 times higher than current maximum download speeds.

Neil Knighton, communications manager for Internexus, said: “The new Internexus wireless broadband network will result in Bolton having some of the fastest internet in the UK

“As a gigabit capable town, more residents and businesses will be able to take advantage of technology and services that are at the cutting edge of what is possible

“We are working hard to ensure the new network is rolled out over the next two years and we’re very excited to see the impact this new technology will have.”

Phil Walker, director of finance at 6G Internet, added: “Over the last 15 years, billions of pounds have been invested in research and development for wireless broadband technology.

“NASA uses it to communicate with its Mars rover, Tesla’s cars use it to update and navigate. Now we are using it to make sure people in Bolton can access the internet faster and cheaper than anywhere else in the UK.”

Bolton’s new gigabit capable broadband network could also boost the local economy by up to £51 million and generate almost 3,250 jobs, according to a report by Ofcom.

The report, titled The Benefits of Ultra-fast Broadband Deployment, concludes that an ultra-fast network within a town results in an increase in employment of 2.9 per cent and a boost to local GDP of 1.1 per cent.

According to the report, the new network will help create more small enterprises, with a significant positive impact on Bolton businesses that rely on ICT skills, such as in the commerce, service and transport sectors.

Cllr Nadim Muslim, Bolton Council’s executive cabinet member for Stronger Communities, including Digital Strategy said: “Fast internet is vitally important for businesses.

“You don’t have to IT whizz to know that all businesses are using internet for their services.

“When super fast broadband is rolled out, it is usually in suburbs first and the town centre is neglected.

“We’re doing what we can as a council to help businesses in the town centre and places such as Logistics North get fast broadband.”

The wireless network will be delivered by wireless transmitters installed on roof-tops, telecommunication masts, monopoles and street poles. This also means that residents will be able to get ultra-fast broadband without needing a telephone line.

Mr Knighton said that another benefit of the technology is that there will be very few road closures or disruptions commonly associated with digging up roads to lay fibre-optic cables.

He added: “To increase the speed of fibre optic broadband you basically have to dig up the entire road.

“With our wireless technology, it’s just a case of swapping out a transmitter at the transmitter stations. These transmitters are the size of a bag of sugar and to increase the speed you just replace them.”

The expansion in Bolton comes as part of wider plans to reach four million homes across the UK by 2022.

6G Internet has also pledged to donate 20 per cent of its network usage to social causes, meaning less well-off people will be able to access free basic internet.

“People can be provided with basic 1mbps internet and always be connected,” Mr Knighton said.

“They don’t have to pay for installation or anything like that.

“What they can do as well is upgrade their connection on a pay as you go basis, as and when they need it.”

In Blackburn, the company has recently worked with Blackburn Rovers Community Trust and the local Community and Voluntary Services (CVS) to provide lessons to those who are ‘digitally excluded’.

It is hoping that it will also be able to work with similar groups in Bolton going forward.

Cllr Muslim said: “Digital exclusion is something that we are very much aware of as a council and we are working to address some issues in our digital strategy.

“At the moment, we are actually working with the GMCA to try and secure funding from the government.

“I would like to make it clear though that as a council, we already provide internet access to everyone in our libraries and one stop shops.

“We haven’t met with the companies yet but it is great that they want to embed the social causes aspect into what they do.”