Southend picks CityFibre for a 50km dark fibre network
A month ago talk emerged of a mystery FTTH network for Southend and we speculated that the wording used sounded very like another CityFibre Gigabit City and now it has been confirmed with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council selecting CityFibre to deliver a 50km future proof dark fibre network to interconnect 120 public sites across the area in a contract worth £3.24 million over ten years.
"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.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is delighted with its selection of CityFibre as its provider of ultra-fast 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."Cllr Ian Gilbert, Executive Member for Community & Organisational Development
Southend is a long way from being an Internet backwater with 96.8% coverage at 24 Mbps and faster and Virgin Media cable coverage at 59.7%, so when the press release talks about "many of these key sites are currently served by legacy BT Openreach connections, frequently delivered over out-dated copper wires" we are a little surprised, since Ethernet services should have been readily available perhaps more correctly it was a case of the price not being right.
The dark fibre network is not destined to supply just the council, once the core contract has been fulfilled the build will expand to the point where the majority of the 6,000 businesses in Southend will gain the option to order a CityFibre Gigabit service and CityFibre will also be hoping to sign up mobile operators to use the dark fibre to interconnect mobile mast sites and the cherry on the cake some time down the line might be a Fibre to the Home roll-out. We have asked for an update on the York FTTH progress and whether a FTTH roll-out in Southend is a certain or something that has the potential to happen if an operator takes an interest.
The reason people like councils and business with multiple sites love dark fibre solutions is that you just pay for the fibre, how it is lit and the speed it runs at is down to the council/business, so every site could be linked with fibre at speeds of 10 Gbps for the same price as 100 Mbps essentially putting multiple sites on a LAN that is better than the connectivity between two computers in the same office.
CityFibre has numerous Gigabit Cities now across the UK delivering services to councils and businesses, but to date only York has started down the FTTH route with a limited size joint venture with Sky and TalkTalk. There is a legacy FTTH network that covers around 20% of Bournemouth but this is not part of the modern CityFibre roll-out plans. CityFibre declare in the press release that they address 3.5 million homes, which we know this does not mean homes passed in the traditional sense but is rather the number of premises in the cities where the CityFibre dark fibre network exists.
Update 12:30 We had a few questions that we thought people might like an answer to, and below is an exact copy of the questions and responses.
- The York FTTH area how many homes passed to date? When is CityFibre/Sky/TalkTalk JV expecting to have passed the original 20,000 announced? How is take-up going?
We're very pleased with the progress to date, and there will be more updates on the project in due course.
- Will the roll-out for business just concentrate in the Openreach copper legacy area, or include the 59% with cable coverage? i.e. Does CityFibre feel it can compete with the fixed connection speed services from Virgin Media too?
We will deploy anywhere where there is aggregate demand which justifies extending the network into a commercial area or business park, as in every other city where we operate.
- Is a FTTH roll-out confirmed for Southend, or is this something that is possible, but no-one has confirmed it will happen.
On Southend FTTH, all our networks are designed to accommodate potential future FTTH deployments as an extension of the core metro build, but for the present our focus in FTTH with our joint venture partners Sky and TalkTalk is on York.