Ian Georgeson

CityFibre reveals full-fibre economic boost to Swindon, pilots virtualised network service delivery

Full-fibre platform provider trials Edgility Suite for rapid, cost-effective delivery of value-added services for business ISPs

Independent carrier-neutral full-fibre platform provider CityFibre has released further details of how much individual towns and cities in the UK can benefit from the roll-out of gigabit networks.

The latest release of findings from the study by consultancy Hatch, Economic impact of full-fibre infrastructure from CityFibre’s network, estimates that over a 15-year period, the positive impacts of the company’s £40m investment in deploying a full-fibre network in the Wiltshire town of Swindon will amount to £495m, including £335m in productivity and innovation gains, £74m from a widened workforce, £10m in Local Authority efficiency savings and £150m in increased housing value.

Technological benefits featured highly in the report, which also demonstrates that CityFibre’s network in Swindon will help to unlock £797m in gross added value (GVA) from 5G services, £163m from the internet of things and £141m from Smart City initiatives, such as intelligent traffic management systems and street lighting. The network firm added that the continuing transition to home and flexible working, supported by full-fibre access at home and in the office, is also unlocking access to a larger pool of labour for employers. In Swindon, working productivity uplifts are estimated to exceed £19m. 

The direct impact of network construction is also identified as a major contributor of Swindon’s economic growth, creating network construction jobs in CityFibre’s build partners and supply chain. Wherever possible, assured the network firm, the new jobs will be recruited locally to support the roll-out.

The survey noted in April 2022 that the UK as a whole stood to gain more than £38bn in potential economic benefits over a 15-year period, stemming from CityFibre’s roll-out of future-proof full-fibre infrastructure in 285 cities, towns and villages in England and Scotland.

Productivity improvements and innovation were seen as responsible for the largest impact, driving more than £22bn in GVA gains nationwide. This is due to the positive effect that far faster and more reliable digital connectivity has been shown to have on business productivity and innovation, increasing turnover and contributing to the formation of new businesses and business models.

“The roll-out of full-fibre infrastructure across the borough is essential if we want our already successful economy to continue to thrive in the years to come, and this report outlines some of the huge benefits we can expect to see,” said councillor David Renard, leader at Swindon Borough Council, commenting on the report. “We were really keen to work with CityFibre to ensure our town was at the front of the queue to receive lightning-fast and future-proof broadband because it will be a game-changer for both residents and businesses in Swindon.”

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Aiming to improve the network, CityFibre also revealed that it was working with BATM Advanced Communications subsidiary Telco Systems to pilot enhanced virtualisation capabilities across its network. The new capabilities are designed to enable business ISPs to provide a faster and more flexible set of offerings for their customers, while also reducing costs, complexity and environmental impact.

After testing, CityFibre is piloting the use of the new Telco Systems Edgility OS Universal Customer Premises Equipment (uCPE) operating system, as well as the Edgility Central cloud-based management and orchestration system. The uCPE will also support bandwidths of up to 10Gbps without business ISPs incurring the higher costs of supplier-locked multi-gigabit-capable equipment.

The edge compute technology is seen as being able to allow business ISPs to rapidly deploy, remotely manage and automatically upgrade products such as VoIP, SD-WAN and next-generation firewalls from any chosen supplier over a single uCPE device, with no need for engineer visits. This, said CityFibre, will improve ISP’s service offering no less than “radically”, responding to business customers’ networking and security needs in minutes rather than days.

Running on CityFibre’s choice of low-power-use uCPE, the Edgility Operating System is is expected to deliver significant carbon reduction as well as a 60% lower total cost of ownership compared with existing services over a four-year period. As well as formally measuring carbon and cost savings, the pilot phase of this project will test onboarding and in-life journeys for CityFibre’s partners and their customers, to ensure a good service experience is in place ahead of national deployment.

“This is another important step towards our ambitious vision for a fully virtualised network,” said CityFibre Group chief technology officer David Tomalin. “Telco Systems’ carrier-grade networking expertise and management of virtualised edge devices at scale makes them an ideal innovation partner.

“By separating the software systems from network components and introducing white box hardware, we can enable our ISP partners to radically improve their service offering to businesses while providing greater control over costs, choice of virtualised service vendor, and reducing waste and CO2 emissions. These are the benefits of a network that is Better by Design.”

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