By: MarkJ - 8 December, 2010 (12:38 AM)
fibrecity dundee uk broadband logoThe i3 Group's Fibrecity project, which aims to offer super-fast 100Mbps+ Fibre-to-the-Home ( FTTH ) connectivity to multiple cities around the UK, has now said that it expects the wider rollout of its fibre optic broadband ISP projects in Bournemouth and Dundee to get back on track early next year.

Development appeared to stall during late October 2010 when 52 contractor staff at Fujitsu, which was responsible for the deployment of fibre optic cable in Dundee, were suddenly given their marching orders (here). Even i3 Group's office in the city appeared to have shut.

An i3 Spokesman said in October:

"Work on the project has been delayed slightly while the group's UK operation is restructured to bring it in line with the company's overseas subsidiaries. We expect this to take up to four weeks."

At the time Scottish Water, a key partner for Fibrecity in Dundee, was ominously said to be 'seeking talks' with the firm. Crucially Fibrecity needs to run its fibre optic cables through underground sewers, otherwise they would be forced down the costly and highly disruptive path of having to dig up roads (this has already happened in Bournemouth).

A Fibrecity spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk today:

"The delay in continuing to rollout the fibre to the home network in Bournemouth and Dundee has created confusion for which we apologise. Wessex Water's decision to pullout of the agreement to let Fibrecity use its sewer pipes to lay the cables has had an impact on the way that we need to deliver the network.

As the network we have built to-date has passed 50,000 homes, we have taken the decision to focus on connecting customers for a short period before continuing the rest of the rollout. Therefore, customers can still contact us to be connected to services if the network has passed their home. The quality of the superfast broadband and other services delivered over the Fibrecity network is far superior to those delivered over a copper, or copper and fibre network, as used by other service providers.

We are sorry for the disruption, but we just ask that residents bear with us while we connect customers to the network already built. We expect the wider rollout of Fibrecity Bournemouth and Dundee to get back on track in early 2011."

The problems encountered by Fibrecity also highlight a few of the difficulties involved with attempting to rollout a brand new fibre optic infrastructure. Running your cables through underground sewers seems like a wonderful idea, yet Fibrecity apparently failed to anticipate some of the potential problems involved.

For now we wouldn't be surprised if the group was merely waiting to see whether or not it could make more economical use of BT's existing cable ducts and telegraph poles, with the first rates expected to be revealed in January 2011. Assuming these are favourable then the i3 Group might be able to take advantage.

One thing is clear, their efforts to dig up roads in Bournemouth didn't come cheap and caused huge frustration for residents, many of whom were dismayed at the level of disruption to their daily lives. The i3 Group won't want to repeat that in Dundee, assuming they have enough support to continue.
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