Altnets advance fibre broadband in East England

Colchester and Norwich get the opportunity to obtain full-fibre gigabit broadband as leading ISP and cable provider promises ability to work from home and connect online better than ever before

As some worry the UK’s current rush towards gigabit broadband is likely to see over-build in the larger metropolitan areas and under-development in the traditionally underserved broadband locations, Air Broadband is bringing its full-fibre broadband service to homes and business in parts of Norwich, while Colchester is the latest city to get fibre connectivity through an FTTX system from Prysmian.

Based on CityFibre’s newly installed full-fibre infrastructure in the area, Air Broadband said it will offer Norwich residents internet speeds 10 times faster than the UK average, meaning homes and businesses across the city will be able to benefit from dependable, affordable full-fibre connectivity to work from home and connect online better than ever before. Moreover, with homes in Norwich boasting an average of 20 connected devices, it’s never been more important to connect to an infrastructure that can support these needs for now and the future.

To work from home successfully, video calling and fast file transfers are crucial,” said Air Broadband’s head of marketing and business development, Joshua Greedy. “Only fibre broadband … can give you sufficient upload speeds to transfer video files. Copper connections like the 60-70Mbps you may have can only give you download speed, not upload.

“[We provide] symmetrical download and upload speeds, for instance, 200 Mbps up and download, which means your video calls are crisp, clear and glitch-free,” he said. “There is huge bandwidth and lightning-fast speeds available, meaning your home or business can work faster, more reliably and never experience drop-outs. The opportunity to have a big city broadband service in your home or business means remote or hybrid working in Norwich is now a very possible option, in contrast to the ranking mentioned above.”

In Essex, Prysmian is promising to connect Colchester with super-dense fibre cable for super-fast connectivity, making the picturesque town one of the best-connected places in the UK. The new, highly reliable broadband service is designed to provide customers with speeds of up to 1Gbps, both upstream and downstream: levels of consistency no traditional connectivity service is capable of.

“The challenge was that we needed to find a way of bringing the existing cable infrastructure forward more than 20 years, in a way that would not be outdated for a long, long time – if ever,” said Colm Coyle, managing director of local firm Rio IT and designer of the installation.

“The target was to reach 7,000 people with a new super-fast fibre system, inserted into the existing duct system, which was built mainly to operate CCTV cameras around the area. They only require a relative handful of fibres. For this task, we were going to have to squeeze around 500 individual fibres into a 16mm diameter duct, which means we actually only had 9-11mm of space inside the tube. I feel like I searched the planet for the right cable; I needed the densest possible fibre cable to be able to achieve a great result on this project. Finally, I found Prysmian – specifically their 552 Sirocco HD fibre cable, which was the only solution. It’s a magnificent find.”

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Colm specified 26 kilometres of 552 Sirocco HD fibre cable for the project, supplied by Fusion Utilities, to be installed by Scotech in a ring around the city. The cable is made up of 552 individual G657A2 fibres, with a fibre density of up to 10.5 fibres per mm2. It uses Prysmian’s BendBright-A2 200µm single-mode (ITU-T G.657.A2) bend insensitive fibre, allowing it to retain enough flexibility to be bent around tight corners without being damaged.

“This was a significant project for Prysmian as it required the use of a brand-new product, which was successfully installed with no issues,” said Adrian Austin, UK sales manager for telecom at Prysmian Group UK.

“Further to this, Colchester is now just the second area in the UK to have this system installed, and Colchester City Council, which commissioned the project, is delighted.”

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