New £30m network makes right connection for thousands of LCR businesses

LCR Connect fibre cable

Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, today (February 23) heralded a new digital era for Liverpool City Region businesses as he celebrated completion of the area’s flagship LCR Connect project.

The 214km gigabit-capable, full-fibre network is now 100% live and is already making a huge difference to local businesses, such as the M&S Bank Arena, where the network played a key role in delivering the Eurovision Song Contest.

LCR Connect is a £30m joint venture being delivered with network provider, ITS, and construction and civil engineering company, NGE.

Mayor Rotheram will be joined this morning at a celebration – hosted by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) at Sci-Tech Daresbury – by some of the 350 local companies already benefiting from LCR Connect. The national science and innovation campus is home to the Hartree Centre’s Scafell Pike, the UK’s most powerful supercomputer dedicated to industrial R&D and was the first location to install LCR Connect.

A further 400 city region businesses are in the process of being connected to the network.

Steve Rotheram said: “Since I was elected, I’ve been on a mission to transform our region into the most digitally connected area anywhere in the country. Today that vision is one step closer to becoming a reality.

“The hallmark of any modern, 21st century city region like ours is how it connects people with opportunity. LCR Connect will help us to create thousands of high quality, secure jobs and training opportunities for local people, attract inward investment and ensure that our businesses can keep pace in an increasingly digital world. Best of all it’s half owned by us, the public, so we can reap the rewards of this investment for years to come.”

Prof Kate Royse, Director of STFC’s Hartree Centre based Sci-Tech Daresbury, said: “LCR Connect is a key critical infrastructure that is helping us to grow our support for businesses to embrace and integrate advanced digital technologies to boost productivity, accelerate innovation and foster digital transformation in the North West.

“Enhancing the connectivity of Sci-Tech Daresbury underpins our growth as we look to expand the campus to support 10,000 people working in science and technology. This will help us in our mission to reach more UK businesses, ensuring they have the right skills, access to expertise and technologies for societal and economic impact.”

Experts estimate LCR Connect will deliver an initial £105m boost to the local economy and that, with 100% full fibre coverage across the city region, the economic boost could be worth up to £1bn, creating thousands of local job and training opportunities.

The LCR Connect network, which has been built and rolled out by construction partner NGE, will provide more than 28,000 local businesses and organisations with access to switch from copper line or more expensive fibre services to a new, competitively priced gigabit-capable service.

Scott Bicknell, NGE Managing Director, said: “It’s a monumental achievement to see the LCR Connect network fully operational, a true testament to the power of collaboration and forward thinking.

“This isn’t just about technological advancement, it’s about knitting our communities closer together, enabling social connectivity on an unprecedented scale, and laying the groundwork for substantial economic growth across the region.”

He added: “The impact of this project will resonate for generations, driving innovation, attracting investment, and enhancing the quality of life for all. NGE are ecstatic to have played a pivotal role in this transformative journey, marking a new era of connectivity and opportunity.”

ITS Chief Executive, Daren Baythorpe, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the joint venture’s impact in supporting digital inclusion, a key part of the combined authority’s Digital Inclusion Network, as well as working directly with schools, digital hubs and charities through our LCR Connect ‘For Good’ social value team.”

LCR Connect is a key element to achieving Mayor Rotheram’s ambition to make the Liverpool City Region the most digitally connected region in the country.

The network supports the Mayor’s target to invest five per cent of regional GVA on R&D by 2030 – nearly double the Government’s national target. He says it will underpin economic growth, innovation, inward investment, and job creation in the city region.

LCR Connect is designed to significantly improve connectivity for businesses, providing faster, more resilient and competitive broadband solutions and will support internet access for schools and other organisations, making the city region among the best-connected areas of the UK. Its resilient fibre ‘backhaul network’ connects the three transatlantic cables that make land in Sefton with major economic clusters in each of the Liverpool City Region’s six local authority areas.