Work progressing to transform Swindon, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Bath into among the world’s best digitally connected locations
By Neil Madle, City Manager, CityFibre
Nine months after CityFibre began its £40m project to provide gigabit-capable full fibre to every home and business in Swindon, significant progress has been made. Large parts of Lower Stratton, Moredon and Pinehurst – the first areas to have the new network installed – are now complete and residents will be able to take a gigabit service from ISPs that come into the network from the end of August. By the time the project is completed in 2024, a world-class, open-access full fibre network will have been provided for the whole town.
It’s a similar story in Gloucester, where a £31m whole-city full fibre project started in January. Large parts of Quedgeley and Podsmead – where the build commenced – are now completed and ISPs will be able to start providing services imminently. CityFibre’s £30 Cheltenham project started in the town’s Alstone area in April and progress has been rapid as our contractors make their way towards the town centre. Most recently, a £25m project to provide full fibre throughout the whole of Bath commenced in the city’s Weston area.
By 2024, the CityFibre build projects in all four of these locations will be completed and multiple internet service providers (ISPs) will have come onto these new networks to provide residents and businesses with much faster and more reliable broadband services.
CityFibre is working with contractors including VolkerSmart Technologies and Kier Utilities to deliver these complex construction programmes and modern build techniques are being used to deploy the network as quickly as possible. In each location, CityFibre is working closely with local authorities and local communities to manage disruption. Where possible, the contractors are coordinating works with other utilities to avoid overbuild. Where possible, residents are being kept informed by mailings ahead of works in their streets.
Despite this, the works are inevitably causing some disruption and inconvenience for residents, and CityFibre apologises for this. “Please bear with us as we work through your town or city and please bear in mind that any short-term pain will yield significant long-term gain,” says Neil Madle, CityFibre’s regional lead.
According to research from economic consultancy Regeneris, full fibre connectivity will have a major impact in this region over the next 15 years. In Swindon alone, it shows that up to £83m could be added to the value of local homes, while Smart City initiatives could add as much as £67m locally. Access to full fibre could also unlock £48m in business productivity and innovation, while a further £27m in growth could be driven from new business start-ups, with enhanced connectivity making it easier and less expensive to set up base and run efficiently.
There are similar benefits for Gloucester, Cheltenham and Bath. In each location, the CityFibre rollout is a one-time build that will future-proof the digital needs of residents and businesses for decades to come. It will also provide the infrastructure necessary to support 5G rollouts.
Full Fibre broadband will help households access all the latest entertainment at lightning speed, but the benefits are far deeper than that – from enabling smart home technology to giving people the freedom to work from home with ease, something that impacts us all at present. Next generation full fibre connectivity can drive innovation and productivity, ultimately giving businesses the platform they need to realise their growth ambitions.
Currently, fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) is only available to around 20 per cent of premises across the UK. It is revered as the best in connectivity for its speed, near unlimited bandwidth and reliability. By using fibre optic cables for every stage of the connection from the customer’s home or business to the Internet, users will be offered a significantly superior and more reliable broadband service, capable of Gigabit speeds (1,000 Mbps).
Residents interested in connecting to full fibre broadband can pre-register their interest at cityfibre.com/residential and will receive information when services are available.