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New 1Gbps FTTP Network for Plymouth, South Hams and West Devon

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 (4:18 pm) - Score 1,353
fibre optic cable broadband red fire

The Plymouth City Council (PCC) has become the latest local authority to secure £3m of funding from the UK Government’s Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) project, which will result in a new Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) style ultrafast broadband network being deployed to connect 227 public sector sites (schools, council etc.).

Broadly speaking the new network, which will still need to secure a supplier in order to conduct the roll-out, doesn’t only aim to improve public sector connectivity. “This investment will significantly extend access to full fibre networks making it easier and cheaper for businesses and homes to connect,” said the announcement. The project also generally hopes to attract more private investment into the area.

The approach being taken here is similar to the one that Cityfibre and other ISPs have adopted in different parts of the UK, where the local authority becomes an anchor tenant for the infrastructure and in the future this same network could then be harnessed by other providers (e.g. Cityfibre and Vodafone are now deploying 1Gbps FTTH broadband to 5 million homes in areas where they initially only had a similar Dark Fibre network).

At present the city of Plymouth (where most of this work will take place) gets the bulk of its “ultrafast” speed connectivity from Virgin Media’s hybrid fibre coax based cable network (covers most of the city), as well as a little G.fast from Openreach. However pure “full fibre” (FTTP) coverage is only available in a few small pockets.

Tudor Evans, Leader of the City Council, said:

“It’s wonderful that organisations at the heart of our community will benefit from this progress, enabling them to take full advantage of advances in digital technologies.

The project is a real step forward for the city and neighbouring rural districts. One area where we expect this bid to make a difference is in helping us to tackle the serious pressures on our public services, for example by offering more patients online GP consultations or testing some of the amazing new technologies that are being developed for remote health checks and monitoring.

We also want businesses to benefit from access to full fibre so that they can compete in global markets – and we’re excited about the prospect of better 5G mobile coverage. That will support our ambition to become a cleaner, greener, SMART city by using data to help traffic flow for example, or providing visitors with real-time tourist information.”

Margot James, UK Minister for Digital, said:

“We’re building a Britain that’s fit for the future, and our plans for a national full fibre broadband network underpin our modern Industrial Strategy. This £3 million boost for gigabit speeds in Plymouth, South Hams and West Devon will benefit homes and businesses across the region and I congratulate the council on its successful bid.”

Sadly the official press release doesn’t contain a lot of detail, although we’ve managed to dig out a bit more information from recent council meetings. Apparently the project will actually cost £3.952m and that extra £952,301 comes from PCC’s Transforming Cities Fund (in another statement they put the figure at £4.08m – probably due to extra promotional/admin costs).

Additional match funding from the private and / or other public sector partners is also a distinct possibility. Meanwhile a related impact assessments appears to suggest a deployment time-scale that will run from September 2019 to March 2021, although this is very much dependent upon their chosen supplier. Some of the network is also intended to reach public sector sites in “surrounding rural areas.”

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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1 Response
  1. Avatar Matthew Williams

    i was a bit unrealistic about these schemes when i first heard of them but think they have a good amount of potential for the future.

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