The Colchester Borough Council in Essex has today announced that they’ve secured a public investment boost of £3.45m from the UK Government’s Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) fund, which will enable the market town to expand their existing “ultrafast broadband” network.
At present around 1,000 businesses in central Colchester can already access a 1Gbps capable Dark Fibre network (Colchester Ultra-Fast Broadband) thanks to a 2016 agreement with ISP by County Broadband. By the sounds of it this network is now set for a major extension into outlying parts of the town.
The new networks will apparently cover the whole of central Colchester, the Northern Gateway and provide links to Greenstead, Severalls Business Park and the Hythe. The networks will also be “expandable and capable of reaching the rural two-thirds in future“, as funding allows.
Interestingly the announcement says that both “businesses and residents across a large part of the town” will benefit, which is good to know because until now the network has not been made available to local homes. On the other hand this could equally be a reference to a more targeted deployment, such as one that might only connect social housing estates.
Margot James MP, UK Minister for Digital (DCMS), said:
“We’re building a Britain that’s fit for the future, and our plans for a national full fibre broadband network underpin our modern Industrial Strategy.
This £3.45m boost for gigabit speeds in Colchester will build on the tremendous work already being done by Colchester Borough Council and I congratulate them on what they have already achieved.”
Councillor Nick Barlow said:
“It is fantastic news that Colchester has been awarded this huge sum to support our plans to deliver ultrafast broadband across the borough, particularly as the digital, creative and online sectors are some of the most important drivers of innovation and growth for Colchester’s economy. Future-proofing and investment in our infrastructure is key.”
Meanwhile the council has predicted that the availability of such a network could help to bolster inward investment and the attractiveness of Colchester to data-hungry and creative businesses. “Independent benchmarking indicates the project will grow Colchester’s economy by 6% – worth more than £230m“, said the local authority (accurately gauging such things is notoriously difficult).
The funding bid was managed by Colchester Amphora Trading, which will also oversee the project deployment on behalf of Colchester Borough Council. Pre-works are already underway, with network build due to start in April 2019.
At present the only other network of any scale able to offer ultrafast broadband services to homes in Colchester is Virgin Media’s cable ISP platform, while only a tiny bit of FTTP comes from Openreach.