Commsworld, the leading UK-wide provider of networking and connectivity solutions, has been awarded a contract which could see £150m spent over 15 years to transform North Lanarkshire’s digital infrastructure and connectivity.
The Edinburgh-headquartered company will accelerate the roll-out of gigabit-capable fire broadband across the entire local authority area, creating a free public WiFi network in town centres and significantly boosting the internet connectivity to schools.
It is the fifth major local authority contract won by Commsworld, having delivered massively enhanced infrastructure to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Renfrewshire and the Scottish Borders, adding to its growing reputation as primary provider of choice in the public sector.
The 15-year framework agreement for Digital Connectivity Services with North Lanarkshire will ensure improved access to high-quality, reliable fire connections, which will make a transformative difference to investment opportunities for businesses in the area as well as tackling digital exclusion among its citizens.
It will achieve this by futureproofing North Lanarkshire’s digital backbone, enhancing the coverage and reach of gigabit-capable networks to businesses, private and council-owned social housing and residential households that are not currently served by existing networks. This will bring enormous benefits including increased access to employment opportunities, improve health and social wellbeing and economic growth.
The agreement will see the creation of a free public WiFi network connecting all town centres, council and public buildings, sport and leisure facilities, culture venues, libraries, country parks, sheltered housing, schools and homelessness accommodation, enabling everyone to gain internet access of up to 1GB, helping to reduce the digital divide across North Lanarkshire.
In a phased programme of work, the council’s 155 schools will also enjoy a significant uplift in internet connectivity with a minimum 1GB connection for primary schools – 20 times the current capacity – and secondary schools increasing to 5GB, boosting digital learning through faster upload speeds.
Finally, as well as bringing an additional digital fibre provider to the area to increase competition, plans could be developed to offer vastly reduced rates for gigabit-capable fibre broadband to council tenants, residents and businesses.
John Trower, chairman of Commsworld, said: “Commsworld is looking forward to working with North Lanarkshire Council to bring rapid and thorough transformation to their digital infrastructure. This transformation will provide opportunities to regenerate every one of its town centres, schools and council buildings.
“Commsworld has a track record of delivering massively enhanced infrastructure to local authorities in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Renfrewshire and the Scottish Borders. We have been able to provide a step change in connectivity and resiliency in all these areas, changes that have delivered considerable benefits to everyone living, learning and working there. We look forward to being able to do the same in North Lanarkshire.”
Councillor Kenneth Duffy, Convener of North Lanarkshire Council’s Transformation and Digitisation Committee, said: “The award of this contract to Commsworld is a huge leap forward for the ambitions we have for everyone in North Lanarkshire.
“The potential impact of these plans cannot be underestimated as this contract has brought forward the availability of fibre broadband quicker to towns, communities, businesses and rural areas across North Lanarkshire, massively improving their digital connectivity and generating an estimated £61.7m in economic benefit to the area.
“We know from talking with people in communities that digital exclusion is a real concern. Equality of access is crucial to improving the lives of people living here and we’re starting right here by providing a network of free public WiFi across our own public buildings, town centres, schools, leisure centres, venues, sheltered housing and homelessness facilities.
“This means that anyone can have access to one of the fastest internet connections available from these locations, supporting a range of individual and business needs such as faster upload and download speeds, higher quality video and audio streaming and the ability to support more devices simultaneously at home.”