WORK is set to start on a project to deliver more than 78km of new fibre optic broadband infrastructure across Oldham.

Once completed, it will see up to 151 public sector sites across Oldham connected to a full fibre network that will provide the foundation for improved connectivity across the borough.

Oldham Council staff and Virgin Media Business have been carrying out preliminary works during the pandemic to ensure work can start in earnest in late October.

Oldham Council leader Sean Fielding who is also GMCA lead for employment, skills and digital: “It’s been a hard and challenging few months for everyone, but our staff have been working behind the scenes to get this project ready to launch.

“Home has become the new office for a lot of people and an enhanced digital infrastructure and high-speed connectivity is now an essential requirement for most households and businesses.

“This rollout of high-speed fibre will lay the foundation for us to create a more comprehensive digital infrastructure across the borough allowing us to integrate gigabit connectivity with our plans for town centre improvements and new development opportunities across Oldham that will enable us to deliver better connectivity to residents and businesses.”

The Oldham scheme is part of a £23 million investment across Greater Manchester which will see more than 2,700km of fibre optic broadband installed.

Across the region, 97 per cent of the network will be provided via existing ducting, meaning work can take place with minimal disruption.

Progress has already been made elsewhere in Greater Manchester and over the coming weeks the first cables will start to be laid in Oldham.

The scheme is jointly funded by the Government’s local full fibre network programme, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and existing local authority investments in digital infrastructure, making this the UK’s largest Local Full Fibre Networks Programme.

Cllr Fielding added: “It’s fantastic to hear work has started to deliver fibre optic connectivity to more than 1,500 public service sites across the region.

“The programme will put the foundations in place to unlock wide range of digital transformation and smart city projects and supports our ambition to make public services more efficient.”