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CityFibre readies KCOM gigabit fibre network in Bristol

After taking over KCOM’s national fibre assets at the end of 2015, CityFibre has begun commercialising an 82km network in Bristol

Urban fibre network builder CityFibre has announced that Bristol will be its next Gigabit City, as it begins work on commercialising an 82km pure fibre network asset – previously owned by Hull-based KCOM – in the city.

CityFibre bought KCOM’s national network in mid-December 2015 for £90m, extending its footprint into 36 new cities, including Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

It has enlisted local business ISP Triangle Networks – which has a substantial customer base in Bristol – to be its Gigabit City launch partner.

Triangle has committed to a minimum of 100 new customers on the network by the end of 2016, and will work closely with CityFibre to encourage wider take-up of ultrafast gigabit broadband in the city.

“We have been watching demand for ultrafast services grow exponentially in recent years and this project has the potential to unlock a tide of demand for faster, more resilient and more affordable services,” said Triangle managing director Paul Anslow.

“As this is a pure fibre network, Triangle will be launching services that are ‘gigabit speed as standard’, far faster than those possible on fibre-to-the-cabinet networks, which are still restricted by the limitations of copper wires.”

CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch said: “Less than a month after announcing our acquisition of KCOM’s networks, we have begun to commercialise them. As the UK’s largest alternative infrastructure provider, this is the first of many new Gigabit City launches to come on our expanded footprint of 36 cities across the UK.”

Bristol already has a thriving digital sector, with a number of startups based around its revitalised harbour area, and last year it launched Bristol Is Open, a council-supported joint venture with the University of Bristol and supplier NEC.

Bristol Is Open is using a high-performance, ultra-low latency software-defined network (SDN) to run a citywide operating system – CityOS, developed by the university’s High Performance Networks group, under professor Dimitra Simeonidou, to encourage the development of smart city applications.

At the start of 2016, the council made data on public transport across Bristol publicly available through an application programme interface (API) to encourage new smart city projects.

Mesch said the arrival of gigabit fibre broadband would complement Bristol’s existing smart city strategy.

“Bristol is already a leader in digital innovation, but its business community has not yet had the opportunity to take full advantage,” he said. “This project provides that opportunity.”

CityFibre and Triangle will officially launch Bristol Gigabit City in February 2016 with a marketing campaign to raise awareness among local business owners, and will invite those interested in signing up to register their interest to help the partners map demand for future expansion.

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