Setting its sights southwards after unveiling projects in Tyneside and the city of Newcastle, CityFibre has unveiled plans to bring full-fibre connectivity to communities across the Thames Valley, and is set to break ground on two town-wide infrastructure roll-outs in Bracknell and Maidenhead.
The project is claimed by the UK’s third-largest broadband provider to mark a major milestone in addressing the current and future digital needs of residents and businesses in the region. Construction of Bracknell’s £20m full-fibre network is set to commence in less than two weeks’ time, with work on Maidenhead’s £14m infrastructure roll-out on track to begin in mid-April.
CityFibre is constructing in a number of locations across the Thames Valley, including Swindon and Slough, where construction began in October 2020. Work is now underway in the Stratton and Haydon Wick areas of Swindon, and in Slough, work is ongoing across the Britwell area.
VolkerSmart Technologies, which is already undertaking work in Slough and Swindon on behalf of CityFibre, will be constructing the town-wide infrastructure in both Bracknell and Maidenhead.
The Jennett’s Park area will be the first location in Bracknell for construction work to take place, with Kidwells Park chosen as the location for the first build site in Maidenhead. Construction of Reading’s full-fibre network kicked off shortly afterwards in January this year, in the Norcot and Battle areas, with Instalcom delivering the build programme on CityFibre’s behalf.
In the roll-out, CityFibre said its team will use a range of construction methods while working in close partnership with local communities, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council and Bracknell Forrest Council to minimise potential disruption.
The provider expressed confidence that buildout in each area will take a few weeks to complete but that construction teams will typically only be outside each home for two to three days. The roll-outs in both locations are expected to reach completion in 2024, but services will go live as areas are completed.
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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.
Speaking on the development of the new project, Stacey King, CityFibre’s city manager for the Thames Valley, said: “I’m immensely excited that work is ready to begin in Bracknell and Maidenhead, as well as proud to see the progress that is being made across the region. This is the start of an exciting new chapter for the Thames Valley as it gets ready to thrive in the digital age.
“It’s important to remember that any short-term disruption will pay off tremendously in the long-term – once the network’s built, it will serve the community’s connectivity needs for decades to come.”
Andrew Johnson, leader at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, added: “CityFibre’s investment in Maidenhead and the wider region is crucial at a time when connectivity has never been so important.
“This once-in-a-generation upgrade will deliver a town-wide network that will benefit residents, businesses and services,” he said. “Providing opportunities for new skills and ways of working which will ensure Maidenhead and the wider region remains at the forefront of economic growth as we look to the future.”