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CityFibre ousts BT from Edinburgh Council WAN

Edinburgh City Council to connect 294 of its sites to CityFibre’s Edinburgh Core fibre network as it ends a long-term contract with BT

CityFibre has extended its Gigabit City project in Edinburgh to connect 294 Edinburgh City Council-owned sites in an agreement worth £5.6m, replacing the council’s ageing and capacity-constrained copper circuits provided by BT.

The seven-year deal comes with an option to extend to 19 years, making the total contract potentially worth £16m.

It forms one element of a £186m outsourced ICT procurement for Edinburgh to be run by CGI, which was announced in August 2015. Broadband services have been identified as a key part of the council’s channel shift programme, which will see it introduce integrated digital services across the local authority.

It also means Edinburgh will undergo the UK’s largest pure fibre network roll-out in an urban area, with the planned 50km Edinburgh Core network – which CityFibre is currently digging alongside partner Commsworld – set to be expanded by 100km.

Initially, CityFibre will connect council offices, community centres, libraries and 137 primary and secondary schools around Edinburgh to its ultrafast fibre wide area network (WAN), enabling the council to relay information among staff, students, clients, buyers and suppliers far faster than before.

Additionally, Commsworld will take charge of the introduction of an IP telephony system for 7,000 users and a 250 seat contact centre, helping to deliver on the council’s commitment to drive at least 25% of the total contract spend through small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“One of the exciting things CGI will do through its chosen partners, including CityFibre and Commsworld, is speed up our move to greater online capability. This will give residents and businesses greater flexibility to engage with the council and carry out their transactions digitally,” said Alasdair Rankin, convener of the finance and resources committee at Edinburgh City Council.

“This will make us a more efficient and effective organisation across our wide range of services,” he said.

CityFibre arrived in Edinburgh earlier in 2015, and construction of the first 50km of the network in the city centre is already underway – although it was suspended for a few weeks to allow the annual festival to take over the streets.

As with CityFibre’s other Gigabit City projects, construction is being undertaken through its “well planned city” model, under which it dynamically alters its deployment plans on the fly in response to where it sees high levels of demand from potential customers.

CEO Greg Mesch said the extension solidified the power of the Gigabit City programme and suggested there was real appetite from city leaders to embrace pure fibre infrastructure as a business enabler.

“In a matter of months, CityFibre’s partnership with Commsworld has begun a truly transformational infrastructure project in the city. As the world’s bandwidth consumption is set to triple in the next four years, Edinburgh is in an advantageous position to capitalise on the continued shift towards a digital economy. In our Gigabit Cities, we are now a true infrastructure alternative to BT Openreach,” he said.

The overall network extension will see the fibre network open up to even more private sector businesses and mobile cell sites. It will also be designed to act as a fibre backbone for future deployment into domestic premises.

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