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Southend using 'dark fibre' to bring ultrafast broadband to public buildings

Thursday, March 17th 2016 by Ellen Branagh

Schools, colleges and council offices in Southend can look forward to a new ultrafast fibre broadband service as part of a deal between the local council and gigabit provider CityFibre.

The company has been selected by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to supply a 50km dark fibre network that will connect 120 key public sector sites throughout the town.

The dark fibre – fibre cabling already in the ground but not yet connected to carry traffic – will provide a platform for a new ultrafast pure fibre network for the sites, which include schools, colleges and council offices.

It means the council will be able to upgrade the existing connectivity to those sites by migrating them from the current copper-based BT Openreach network.

The deal, worth £3.24m over 10 years, aims to underpin the council’s digital strategy and will make Southend CityFibre’s latest ‘Gigabit City’.

CityFibre said the new infrastructure will help the council to deliver cost-effective and efficient digital public sector services.

Mobile masts can be connected to the network to support upgrades to 4G and 5G services, and ultimately the network will provide a backbone for the rollout of fibre to the home (FTTH) services.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, Southend council's executive member for community and organisational development, said: "Connectivity is a critical issue for today's businesses, so this has the potential to be a massive boost to jobs and investment in the town.

'Forward thinking'

“Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is delighted with its selection of CityFibre as its provider of ultrafast network connectivity for the borough.

“The solution will not only provide a stepped improvement in connectivity for council premises and schools but also offer solutions for businesses and residential premises.

“The partnership reflects the council’s commitment to sustainable economic growth and improved opportunity for all.”

CityFibre has already built gigabit fibre networks – delivering speeds of 1,000Mbps – in York, Peterborough, Coventry, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Like all of its gigabit city projects, the new network in Southend will be made available on a wholesale basis to service providers.

They will then be able to offer ultrafast services to the majority of Southend’s 6,000 businesses.

CityFibre chief executive Greg Mesch said: “We’re delighted to add Southend to growing ranks of Gigabit City projects across the UK.

“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.”

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