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First Customers Live on Bristol’s New 10Gbps Fibre Optic Network

Sunday, July 24th, 2016 (4:33 pm) - Score 1,917

The first businesses have connected to the newly re-branded Bristol Network (formerly B-Net) in Bristol City (South West England), which is a large fibre optic network that use to be owned by the local authority until two ISPs, Net Support UK and ITS Technology Group, began to commercialise it last year.

A 20 year concession agreement was signed between the providers and the Bristol City Council last November (here), which allowed them to setup a network that can serve local businesses as well as public sector sites by using the council’s existing cable ducts. Since then a number of wholesale partners have been integrated and customers are already getting connected.

The original BNet platform has been around for 15 years (it was originally purchased from an old cable TV provider called Rediffusion) and supported all of the council’s requirements, including telephony, data, traffic related communications and CCTV. However the commercialisation should, over the longer term, bring some much needed income back to the local authority and without them having to sacrifice their existing needs.

Jonathan Griffin, Spectrum Internet’s Head of Sales, said:

“We have a number of business customers in Bristol with high bandwidth requirements due to the nature of their work. In the case of Yogscast, they also had tight timescales to meet which we could only achieve by using The Bristol Network. The pricing structure is straight forward and it is easy for us to upgrade any of our customers’ circuits up to 10Gbps capacity if needed. The Bristol Network has been designed specifically for this era of digital growth.”

The usable network was initially some 76km long and stretched its way across the city in a figure of eight, although a further 60km of “unused duct” also exists that the new project intends to re-activate and eventually even extend to more than 180km.

Roy Shelton, CEO of ITS Tech, added:

“Since November 2015 BNet Ultra the joint venture between ITS Technology Group and Net Support UK, have been putting the foundations in place to support Bristol’s vision. We are thrilled with the demand and commitment that local business have shown and are delighted to already see tangible results. The network is quickly being utilised by the type of businesses and organisations that Bristol is so proud of.

We have worked hard with our local partners to design and roll out the network to areas which continue to be underserved and starved of robust ultrafast broadband. Working in partnership with Bristol City Council and our partners the network will continue to evolve to be the largest and only council supported network in Bristol. The network will also form the basis for further digital inclusion and innovative solutions to be deployed via our wider global technology partners.”

Mind you the ‘Bristol Network’ isn’t the only game in town and Cityfibre has similarly moved to commercialise a separate 82km fibre optic network in the city, which they acquired as part of a £90m deal to buy KCOM’s UK network assets (excluding Hull and East Yorkshire) at the end of 2015 (here).

Under Cityfibre’s plan the Bristol: Gigabit City network is aiming, with the help of local ISP Triangle Networks, to connect a minimum of 100 new business customers to the network by the end of 2016. Not forgetting that the city is also well covered by BT and Virgin Media’s admittedly slower hybrid-fibre broadband services.

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