Over 8,000 homes and businesses across Colchester will be amongst the first to benefit from direct access to full fibre gigabit broadband connectivity thanks to an enterprising new partnership between Colchester Amphora Trading Ltd (CATL) and Swedish fibre operator, VX Fiber.
This month, the digital infrastructure specialist VX Fiber began the build of a full fibre open access network bringing Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) deployment to Berechurch and Shrub End wards.
CATL is leading the delivery of the project on behalf of Colchester Borough Council as part of its ambitious programme to provide full fibre broadband to tens of thousands of homes and businesses across Colchester and to future-proof the town’s digital infrastructure.
The work has been made possible thanks to Colchester Borough Council’s successful bid for £3.24 million from the Government’s Local Full Fibre Network Fund (LFFN). This has so far enabled the company to upgrade the town’s data distribution networks and complete a new, high-capacity data link to London.
To supplement this, VX Fiber is making a multi-million pound investment into the necessary access infrastructure to connect premises. This collaboration with the local authority will see the network expand to reach a target 25,000 premises.
Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council said: “We welcome this forward-thinking partnership with VX Fiber and the start of works to enable over 8,000 homes and businesses within Colchester to benefit from direct access to full-fibre gigabit broadband connectivity.
“VX Fiber’s investment in Colchester builds on our own council project to expand ultra-fast broadband around the town. This benefits the local economy, supporting businesses and residents all in one go.
“This significant investment will support the growing demands of home working and study, boost business innovation and growth, and help entice digitally aware businesses into the borough.”
VX Fiber provides the open access platform that enables independent Service Provider partners to offer their services, giving customers access to a marketplace of essential (e.g. broadband, phone and TV) and innovative services over the same infrastructure.
Its fibre-deployment subsidiary, LilaConnect is responsible for the Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) construction, and will market, sell, install and maintain connections to this network to residents and businesses.
The new network uses FTTP broadband technology – a dedicated future-proof connection where the fibre optic cables are laid all the way into residential and commercial properties.
This differs from Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) which is a blend of copper and fibre optic cables whereby the fibre only goes as far as the street cabinet and then an outdated copper line, connects the cabinet to the premises.
Fast and reliable connectivity has shifted from being a luxury to being more of an everyday utility. COVID-19 has certainly fast-tracked this. The introduction of a full fibre network has the capacity to transform a whole community, with full fibre connectivity providing the economic incentive to encourage people and businesses to move into the areas it serves.
Fibre is the core infrastructure of any future digital economy as innovations such as virtual reality, smart home applications, telehealth and online learning require high quality and high-speed broadband.
The network will provide the basis for future investment in 5G, wireless and smart cities – positioned for upgrade to multi-gigabit speeds to adapt to the exponential rise in computing power and data use and the emergence of new applications.
Mikael Sandberg, Chairman at VX Fiber, said: “We are excited to get started in Colchester, to bring a secure, fast and reliable full fibre network to residents and businesses in the area.
“Access to gigabit connectivity is an integral part of 21st century living. But it’s much more than just streaming video and music or online shopping. It’s also about transforming communities with ‘smart’ initiatives and improvements such as better access to employment, education and healthcare – there will be no restrictions on the introduction of new applications and services as the FTTP infrastructure is future-proof.”
Residents and businesses interested in connecting to the new full fibre network can register their interest at www.lilaconnect.co.uk