Last March the Belfast City Council (BCC) secured a public investment of £11.5m to support their plans for deploying a 1Gbps+ capable “full fibre” network, which would connect public sites across the city. Since then we’ve been waiting for news on the contract and Openreach (BT) may have just given a clue.
The funding itself came from Wave 2 of the UK Government’s £190m Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) challenge fund (here), which was setup to help stimulate commercial investment in “gigabit capable” broadband (rural and urban) networks.
As part of this Belfast established the Public Sector Anchor Tenancy project, which aims to connect 96 council sites to a new Gigabit capable Dark Fibre network. The new network would also be extended to areas of the city where “intensive local regeneration plans” have been prepared (c.1,468 premises passed or 22,724 potentially addressable premises).
The primary aim of this was to “future proof” BCC’s own connectivity requirements for the next 25 years.
BCC’s Fibre Plan Statement (Dec 2018)
Through the BCC Public Sector Anchor Tenancy project, the Council intends to connect council buildings across the city to create a gigabit capable fibre network which will future proof BCC’s own connectivity requirements for the next 25 years.
The Council is also seeking to maximise the availability and benefit of gigabit capable broadband services in the City Centre through, the Public Sector Asset Reuse (PSAR) project, which aims to allow ducting within the Streets Ahead area to be used to deploy fibre services to businesses in this area much more cost effectively than is currently the case.
The BCC LFFN programme also supports the aims of the Belfast Region City Deal and Smart Belfast Framework. The BCC LFFN project will open up new opportunities to support digitally transformed user focussed Customer services, and innovative digital infrastructure covering networking, IoT sensors, modern devices, data management systems and 5G smart districts and test-beds.
A related contract notice for this project was published last September 2018, which proposed a total value of £25m. The result of this is expected soon but in the meantime Openreach may have offered a hint. In a new briefing the operator has decided to offer their OSA Filter Connect (Single Fibre XG-210) service on 25-year term pricing, “specifically in response to and for the [Belfast LFFN] bid“.
The OSA Filter Connect service is kind of a virtual (grey) dark fibre style solution and so far as we’re aware the longest term for their single fibre variant is usually 60 months (5 years). The 60 month option for this tends to carry a one-off connection charge of £8,590.00 +vat and an annual rental of £4,380.00.