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Colchester Borough Council wins prestigious EU Broadband Award

Date issued: 24 November 2017

Colchester Borough Council has been awarded the European Commission's prestigious EU Broadband Award in the category of innovative cost reduction and use of shared infrastructure. Forty-nine submissions from nineteen EU member-states and Turkey had been entered, with winners selected by an expert jury in five categories. The ceremony took place in Brussels at the historic Solvay Library near the European Parliament.

The award is now in its third year and recognises innovative projects designed to facilitate better connectivity for consumers and businesses alike. The panel noted that Colchester's project, based on deploying ultrafast connectivity over largely existing assets, is an unusual approach it would like to see develop elsewhere to reduce the costs to local authorities and governments of delivering better connectivity infrastructure. Elements of the project included upgrading and modernising the CCTV network and utilising this connectivity to deploy ultrafast broadband over the upgraded fibre infrastructure. This enabled the Council to facilitate this service for businesses in the Town Centre for less than £500,000. The project was financed by the South Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership, and from Section 106 and New Homes Bonus contributions. Building the infrastructure from scratch would have cost some £6m. This novel method of significantly reducing build costs was key to gaining the European award.  

Councillor Annie Feltham, Portfolio Holder for Commercial Services, said: "This is a great achievement, an excellent recognition of the hard work and dedication of the Council's project teams. High-speed broadband is an essential requirement for the very large majority of Colchester businesses and it is important to keep up-to-date with such key technology."

The Colchester broadband deployment, which was built during 2016, offers up-to-gigabit connectivity to around 850 SMEs in the Town Centre through the Council's appointed network operator. The Council undertook the project after surveys revealed a poor level of existing connectivity that slowed the growth of creative and digital businesses. 

The deployment forms part of the Council's wider economic growth and investment strategies as well as the innovative Digital Strategy, aimed at securing even higher levels of inward investment and value-added job creation. The Council's Digital Strategy includes nine work streams and sets out the Council's ambition to make the Borough the best connected placed in the East of England. Colchester Borough Council's ambition.

Over the next few months, the Council will be bidding for additional Government funds to begin the deployment of prototype 5G technology and to expand the reach of the ultra-fast fibre network to the urban and rural parts of the Borough alike.

ENDS