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Homes and businesses set to benefit as Government announces £3.3 million boost to bring gigabit broadband to Colchester

The project will bring brand-new, gigabit broadband connectivity to Colchester

Date issued: 30 April 2020

Colchester Borough Council has secured a £3.3 million investment from the Department for Media, Culture, Sport and Digital (DCMS) to bring brand-new, gigabit broadband connectivity to Colchester – the investment was confirmed by the DCMS on Friday 24 April.

Colchester Amphora Trading Ltd, the council’s commercial arm, made the successful bid on behalf of Colchester Borough Council to the Government’s Local Full Fibre Network Fund (LFFN) following two years of planning and negotiations.

It is one of the highest-profile projects to have been undertaken by Colchester Amphora Trading Ltd since it was established in 2018 and will ensure that households and businesses across urban Colchester will benefit from direct access to full fibre broadband.

All profits from the project will return to Colchester Borough Council for reinvestment into good-quality public services for the residents and businesses of Colchester.

Councillor Theresa Higgins, Colchester Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Commercial Services, said: “Securing £3.3 million from DCMS is fantastic news and will ensure that Colchester becomes one of the best-provisioned towns in the country, helping to assist the economic recovery that will be so vital over coming years.

“We’ve seen how the coronavirus crisis has underlined the importance for many of being able to work from home with reliable connectivity, and Colchester will receive a world-class infrastructure as a result of this project.”

The DCMS investment will be used to build a core network connecting the UK’s main internet exchange in London to data distribution facilities in the town centre and at the Northern Gateway. From these two locations, a large skeleton network will be built across urban Colchester.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman, said: “We are investing £3.3 million to bring faster gigabit-speed broadband to Colchester.

“This will not only mean social and economic benefits for people, but it will also attract commercial investment and allow businesses to take advantage of new and revolutionary smart technologies.

Amphora has attracted a further £10 million investment for Colchester from the Swedish fibre operator, VX Fiber to ensure the network can expand to reach a target 25,000 customers. To help provide this coverage, the council will utilise its existing property assets, including sheltered housing sites. This approach will ensure that full fibre will be made available fairly, including to the more deprived communities for which it has been until now unavailable.

VX’s business model is based on the highly innovative ‘open-access’ principle developed in Scandinavia, in which multiple service providers offer broadband, digital phone and digital TV services over the same infrastructure.  Customers will be able to select services to suit their own requirements, without the need for engineering visits to change cables and devices. Gigabit broadband will become the gold standard for both residents and businesses at competitive and affordable prices.

Richard Watts, UK Sales and Marketing Director for VX Fiber, added: “We are delighted that Colchester has received this award from DCMS as this shows yet another prime example of how local authorities can play a vital role in the delivery of digital transformation across their communities. We are pleased to be working in collaboration with CBC and looking forward to inviting Service Providers to the Open Access Network.”

Unlike traditional copper-based networks, full-fibre networks provide an unlimited capacity to send huge amounts of data over large distances at near the speed of light. Alongside the direct benefits to business and residents of greatly increased speed and reliability, the new networks will provide the core infrastructure for forthcoming technologies centred on “smart” devices, air and traffic monitoring, digital CCTV and advertising, and 5G mobile telephony.

The full network build will take up to five years to complete. It is anticipated that the first phase of installation work, to be managed by Amphora, will begin in the town centre, Greenstead and north Colchester in May. Deployment to other parts of urban Colchester will start later in 2020 with the skeleton network completed by May 2021. New customers will be able to sign up for services from September 2020.

The rural parts of the borough will receive full-fibre technologies under alternative Government contracts agreed between DCMS and Openreach, Gigaclear and County Broadband. For further information about forthcoming rural deployments, please refer to the websites of these operators.  

For further information and to keep up to date with the project’s roll-out visit: www.colchester-fibre.co.uk  

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