First Newcastle residents gain CityFibre gigabit access

UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform provider claims Tyneside digital revolution is gathering pace as the first homes are connected to next-generation full-fibre network

A week after beginning work that it said would result in the city of Brighton and Hove transforming into one of the world’s best digitally connected cities, former altnet CityFibre has turned its attention to the opposite end of England and claims that the city of Newcastle’s digital transformation has reached a milestone, with the first residents connected to its new gigabit-capable full-fibre network.

CityFibre said it is investing £69m to bring the fastest and most reliable digital connectivity to Newcastle and that swift progress has been made since construction work began on the city-wide roll-out in 2019. The build-out project is set to reach completion in 2023, by which time the network is expected to be within reach of almost every home and property in Newcastle.

The network is now complete in parts of the Gosforth, Kenton, Fawdon, Blakelaw and Fenham area and the first customers are now live using gigabit-speed consumer broadband provided by Zen Internet, the first internet service provider (ISP) to offer services on Newcastle’s CityFibre network. Elswick, Arthur’s Hill and Walker are set to be the next areas of the city to be connected in the roll-out and an increasing number of other ISPs, including TalkTalk, are set to join the network soon, giving customers a range of options.

CityFibre said that as progress continues, it is committed to keeping local businesses and residents fully up to date on plans for each community, as well as highlighting the benefits that access to full-fibre will bring to all. The company revealed the views of Jason Mirza, the first resident to sign up for Zen’s gigabit-speed broadband. “I’ve probably got the fastest broadband in Newcastle and I love it,” he said.

Jason Legget, Newcastle city manager at CityFibre, added: “As we’ve seen from all the customers that have signed up since we went live with Zen in January, people just can’t believe how much faster it is both for download and upload, so its brilliant for Zoom, gaming or binging on Netflix.”

The Brighton and Hove roll-out is funded by an £80m private investment from CityFibre to future-proof the area’s digital connectivity by ensuring its infrastructure can service the speed and bandwidth requirements of both residents and businesses for decades to come. Explaining the rationale for its move, CityFibre cited research from economic consultancy Regeneris which forecast that full-fibre connectivity will have a major impact in Brighton and Hove over the next 15 years.

It showed that up to £213m could be added to the value of local homes, while smart city initiatives could add as much as £71m locally. Access to full-fibre broadband was said to potentially unlock £62m in business productivity and innovation, and a further £30m in growth was envisaged to 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 begun in Brighton and Hove’s Bevendean area, with the rest of the city to follow over the next four to five years.

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