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CityFibre lights up Yorkshire cities with gigabit connectivity

Former altnet turned UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform provider announces plan to transform two of the White Rose county’s largest conurbations into digitally connected cities

The north of England cities of Sheffield and Bradford are celebrating major milestones in their respective digital transformations, according to CityFibre, as work has begun on the gigabit infrastructure platform to extend further its fast-growing full-fibre network to reach almost every home and business in the localities.

In June 2020, CityFibre announced a three-year recruitment and training programme to provide up to 10,000 people with jobs to ensure the delivery of its £4bn Gigabit City investment programme that plans to upgrade digital infrastructure to make it fit for purpose in the modern age.

CityFibre’s Accelerated Tenders Award Programme (ATAP) is expected to see construction underway in more than 100 towns and cities across the UK by the end of 2021. The latest part of the programme aims to address up to three million premises and the funding will create more than 3,750 local network construction jobs across the UK.

As part of a £115m private investment from the communications firm, Sheffield is targeted to benefit from a city-wide full-fibre network roll-out, meaning its residents and businesses will soon be able to enjoy the fastest, most reliable, gigabit-speed connectivity.

Quoting research from economic consultancy Regeneris, CityFibre said full-fibre connectivity would have a major impact in Sheffield over the next 15 years. Up to £162m could be added to the value of local homes, while smart city initiatives could add as much as £113m locally. Access to full-fibre could also unlock £78m in business productivity and innovation, while a further £43m in growth could be driven from new business startups, with enhanced connectivity making it easier and less expensive to set up base and run efficiently. 

Construction work has officially commenced in Darnall and Wybourn, with the rest of the city set to follow over the next four years. O’Connor Utilities is delivering the construction programme on CityFibre’s behalf, using modern build techniques to deploy the network quickly. The team is also working closely with CityFibre, Sheffield City Council and local communities to manage disruption and ensure a fast and successful roll-out. Residents are being kept informed by mailings ahead of works in their streets.

To spearhead the Sheffield project, CityFibre has appointed Natalie Ward as city manager, tasked with providing a key point of liaison between the wider community and the CityFibre team, and ensuring the project is implemented with minimal disruption. She will also work to raise awareness of full-fibre technology and the many benefits it will bring to the city.

Commenting on her aims and the project in general, Ward said: “This past year has really demonstrated the remarkable versatility of the internet and how much we depend upon all things digital. We want to ensure that as many homes as possible in Sheffield are linked to full-fibre – the fastest and most resilient digital infrastructure available – to make our digital experience as seamless as possible.

“The investment will also have a transformative impact on Sheffield’s forward-thinking business community. Next-generation full-fibre connectivity can drive innovation and productivity, ultimately giving businesses the platform they need to realise their growth ambitions.”

Sheffield City Council leader Bob Johnson added: “We welcome this private investment by CityFibre into Sheffield to deliver a modern, state-of-the-art digital infrastructure that will future-proof connectivity for residents and businesses.

“Sheffield’s new digital infrastructure will play an important part in our recovery plan, with a resilient and dynamic economy this will boost productivity and restart growth after Covid-19. Sheffield City Council works closely with the private sector to facilitate economic growth. CityFibre’s full-fibre network will be pivotal, supporting economic growth and boosting the high-growth digital companies Sheffield is home to.”

“CityFibre’s full-fibre network will be pivotal, supporting economic growth and boosting the high-growth digital companies Sheffield is home to”
Bob Johnson, Sheffield City Council

Meanwhile, CityFibre’s investment in Bradford amounts to £75m and Regeneris believes that over the next 15 years, full-fibre connectivity could add up to £136m to the value of local homes in the West Yorkshire city, while Smart City initiatives could add as much as £95m locally. In addition, access to full-fibre is calculated to unlock £69m in business productivity and innovation, while a further £40m in growth could be driven from new business startups, with enhanced connectivity making it easier and less expensive to set up base and run efficiently.

CityFibre’s Bradford construction work has officially commenced in East Bowling, with the rest of the city set to follow over the next four years. UK utility and infrastructure service provider Network Plus is delivering the construction programme on CityFibre’s behalf, using modern build techniques to deploy the network quickly. The team is also working closely with CityFibre, Bradford Council and local communities to manage disruption and ensure a fast and successful roll-out.

“Bradford is one step closer to becoming a Gigabit City with the commencement of work to install state-of-the-art digital infrastructure across the city,” said Bradford city manager Kim Johnston. “The first homes will soon be able to benefit from full-fibre, unlocking access to all of the latest entertainment and services at gigabit speeds, with the peace of mind that comes from a reliable connection for seamless home working.

“Bradford is one of the youngest cities in the country and CityFibre’s full-fibre network will be vital in ensuring Bradford has a resilient and dynamic economy for years to come. In addition, it will provide growth opportunities and a platform to support businesses to take their products or services to a national and international audience,” she said.

“Fast and reliable broadband is so important in the world today, from facilitating digital on-demand content to supporting businesses to grow and flourish,” added councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, portfolio holder for regeneration, planning and transport at Bradford Council. “We welcome CityFibre’s investment in fibre technology across the city and district, which will play a key role in supporting Bradford’s digital ambitions and drive economic growth and resilience.”

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