Full fibre network builder Cityfibre has today announced that their £30m plan to rollout a new 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network to “nearly every home and business” in the town of Southend-on-Sea (Essex) – supported by UK ISP partner Vodafone – has finally begun the construction phase.
Cityfibre has hired civil engineering firm Intelligent Telecommunications Ltd. to do build and the first areas to benefit include the Eastwood Park and Progress Road industrial areas. Assuming all goes according to plan then the first homes could be live by the end of 2019, although the full build won’t complete until the end of 2022.
The new FTTH extension is being built out from the operator’s existing 90km+ Dark Fibre network (here), which for the past few years has been serving local public sector and business sites. Once completed it’s expected that around 100,000 premises in the town should be able to benefit from the new service.
Aideen Sadler, CityFibre’s City Manager for Southend-on-Sea, said:
“For people across Southend, their digital future is just around the corner. Work is now underway in both the Eastwood Park and Progress Road industrial areas and the first homes will soon be able to access full fibre. That is something to be celebrated.
Full fibre broadband will help households access all the latest entertainment at gigabit speeds, but the benefits are far deeper than that – from enabling smart home technology to giving people the freedom to work from home with ease.
The investment also comes at a critical time for Southend’s forward-thinking business community. Next generation full fibre connectivity can drive innovation and productivity, ultimately giving businesses the platform they need to realise their growth ambitions. And it won’t just improve business locally – it will also help businesses take their products or services to an international audience.”
Ian Gilbert, Leader of the Council, added:
“I am delighted to welcome CityFibre to Southend and make it a ‘Gigabit City’, allowing residents and businesses to take advantage of some of the fastest connection speeds in the UK.
Inevitably installing this physical network will involve some disruption for residents, but I am convinced that it is essential for our future prosperity. Connectivity has become one of the most important factors for businesses in making their investment decisions, and I am convinced that this alongside our location, our vibrant cultural scene and entrepreneurial track record, Southend could become one of the most attractive places in the UK to do business.”
As usual this all forms part of the operators wider £2.5bn investment (details), which aims to deploy a Gigabit capable “full fibre” broadband infrastructure to cover around 1 million premises in 12 UK cities by the end of 2021 (phase one – costing c.£500m), before rising to 5 million premises across 37 cities and towns by the end of 2025.
The Gigafast Broadband products are what Vodafone uses to promote their range of packages on the new network. The plans currently cost from £28 per month for an unlimited 100Mbps (symmetric speed) service and this rises to just £48 for their top 900Mbps tier (average peak time speeds). Cityfibre is encouraging locals to register their interest for the Gigafast service on Vodafone’s website.
At present the main source of competition for Cityfibre in the town will come from Virgin Media’s 500Mbps+ (soon to be 1Gbps) cable network, which covers almost two thirds of the area. Openreach’s G.fast network also exists in a modest patch but there’s certainly scope for improvement via a new FTTH infrastructure.