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Southend-on-Sea Borough Council in Essex has selected fibre backbone builder CityFibre to connect 120 key public sector sites with a 50km dark fibre network, in a deal that will be worth £3.24m over the next 10 years.
The council will use the infrastructure to support its long-term digital strategy with ultrafast connectivity services across schools, colleges and council offices in Southend, many of which are still served by legacy Openreach connections running over copper wires. It plans to connect these sites to the network as it is built.
“The system will not only provide a stepped improvement in connectivity for council premises and schools, but also offer systems for businesses and residential premises,” said Ian Gilbert, executive member for community and organisational development at Southend Council.
Besides connecting public sector sites, Southend’s network will be made available on a wholesale basis to internet service providers, with the majority of Southend’s estimated 6,000 businesses able to access gigabit speed fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband.
“Connectivity is a critical issue for businesses, so this has the potential to be a massive boost to jobs and investment in the town,” said Gilbert.
As with other networks built under CityFibre’s Gigabit City programme, there will be potential for mobile network operators to connect new masts to the network to provide backhaul for enhanced 4G services, and eventually for consumer internet service providers (ISPs) to provide residential broadband services as well.
“Southend demonstrates many of the key indicators of success. It has a forward-thinking council with an ambitious digital strategy and the appetite to become a leading example of a smart city, while its business community is growing and hungry for best-in-breed connectivity options,” said CityFibre chief executive Greg Mesch.
CityFibre has been ramping up its network builds around the UK since it acquired the national fibre assets of Hull-based Kcom – part of East Yorkshire incumbent Kingston Communications – in December 2015.
Since then, it has begun work on commercialising an 82km fibre network in Bristol, with local ISP Triangle Networks targeting 100 businesses in the city in the initial roll-out.