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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Six bidders in running for £2.5m contract

THERE are now six bidders in the running for a £2.5 million contract to ensure Cumbrian businesses reap the rewards of superfast broadband and use it to generate new jobs.

They include a bid put together by Britain’s Energy Coast, Furness Enterprise and CREA as The Clean Consortium.

Another company vying for the Cumbria County Council contract which will coach businesses in how to best take advantage of superfast connections is Penrith-based Commendium which is being supported in its bid by Invest in Cumbria.

The shortlist also includes the Cumbria Growth Hub, led by the Chamber of Commerce along with Cumbria Tourism and the University of Central Lancashire.

Other bidders are BE Group, Oxford Innovation and Mediasmith International.

Whoever wins will have a key role to play once Cumbria’s superfast broadband roll-out finally gets under way.

And David Jones, head of projects, energy and business support at Britain’s Energy Coast, believes superfast broadband will be central to the performance of Cumbria’s economy over the next few years.

He said: “High speed broadband has a key role in stimulating productivity, performance, growth and innovation – the latter being a high priority in the West Cumbria Economic Blueprint.

“The members of Clean Consortium believe we are ideally placed to deliver the support businesses will need to ensure they capitalise on the improvements planned for Cumbria.

“BEC are also keen to ensure that business gets the level of broadband that will enable them to compete in a global marketplace and are exploring key locations across the I-Zone where massively greater broadband speeds will be available than through the BT contract.

“We are not just accepting that the excellent levels of provision the BT contract will offer will be enough. The IT market moves at a remarkable speed and we are looking for broadband to become a real strength for West Cumbria as a location that will attract businesses to the area as well as help existing businesses grow.”

BT has been awarded the contract to deliver speeds of up to 30Mbps to every corner of the county, but the county council wants to ensure the business community takes full advantage of the opportunities afforded by fibre broadband.

The project has set a target of helping 1,381 businesses improve performance through the scheme, which it also wants to create 145 permanent new jobs at SMEs.

Tender documents describe the contract as being for an “integrated business support programme aimed at stimulating the take up of superfast broadband services and ensuring small and medium sized enterprises take full advantage of its benefits”.

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