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Lowestoft Council Aim to Extend Full Fibre Broadband to Local Homes

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 (8:17 am) - Score 694
lowestoft dark fibre optic network cityfibre

The East Suffolk Council in England has agreed to explore a proposed extension of Cityfibre and UK ISP MLL Telecom’s on-going rollout of a new “full fibre” network across the town of Lowestoft, which would enable the network to bring “ultrafast broadband” speeds of 1000Mbps+ to local homes and smaller businesses.

At the start of this year Cityfibre, which builds and manages various alternative and Gigabit speed capable fibre optic networks across the UK, confirmed (here) that it would construct, operate and own a new 114km long Dark Fibre spine network across 10 towns in Suffolk (Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft, Haverhill, Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Sudbury, Stowmarket, Mildenhall and Newmarket).

The new network is supported by some £5.9m of public funding via the Government’s Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) project and should be completed by around the middle of 2020, although at present its goal is only to connect over 300 public sector sites (council offices, NHS clinics, fire stations etc.).

However the East Suffolk Council was keen to explore whether the work in Lowestoft could be extended in order to help it reach local homes and so they set above conducting a study. A new report reveals that an investment of £1.9m by the council could enable a 5km extension, which would put the network within reach of the town’s key employment sites and planned new residential areas. But it would also do much more than that.

NOTE: The picture above shows Cityfibre’s current Dark Fibre roll-out plan for Lowestoft.

Council Statement

CityFibre advised that this proposed extension reached the ‘trigger point’ for them to make a further substantial investment of up to £20m [estimated cost of £15m to £20m] in the network so that all premises, business and residential, in Lowestoft would be able to access full fibre.

CityFibre are willing to make such an investment as they can achieve a good return on their investment through the sale of wholesale access to the network to any Internet Service Provider (ISP) once any current exclusivity arrangements expire.

At present Cityfibre are already working with residential ISP partner Vodafone on a £2.5bn project that aims to bring 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband connectivity to 1 million UK premises across 12 cities and towns by the end of 2021, which could then be extended to 5 million premises across 37 UK cities and towns by 2025 (full details). At present Lowestoft is not on their rollout plan but it could be added.

The Suffolk Cloud project provides a once in a generation opportunity to provide this world class infrastructure at a very cost effective rate … [and] will be of benefit to all sectors of the East Suffolk community,” said the council’s latest cabinet report.

The cabinet has given its support to the proposed Lowestoft Full Fibre Project and called for further discussions to take place (i.e. in order to assess the financial and governance implications for the East Suffolk Council), although it’s unclear how long this will take but we’d expect a decision to be made before the end of 2019.

However the council would still need to find £1.9m to get the work started. The proposal states that £200k of this would come from the Suffolk business rates 100% Pilot fund, while a further £500k may be allocated via the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders’ pot. The remaining £1.2m might then come from the New Homes Bonus reserve.

We should add that the Better Broadband for Suffolk (BBS) project with Openreach (BT) has already achieved 93%+ coverage of “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) networks (up from just 50% in 2013) and they aim to reach 98% coverage by the end of 2020, although Gigabit speed full fibre networks are obviously in a different league to that.

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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.
Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar New_Londoner

    Interesting to see whether this falls foul of state aid rules.

    • There could indeed be a small grey area around that for part of the proposed £1.9m extension, although the main extension to homes and smaller businesses would flow from the private investment side.

  2. Avatar CarlT

    What an excellent way to go as long as it can flow smoothly.

  3. Avatar matthew

    Is this basically the council and uk government paying for the core network fibre cables and that cityfibre paying to take that network to homes?

  4. Avatar Ian

    I’d be interested to know what progress has been made as I live within the proposed sites, and there’s not been any real news since the initial press releases. Appreciate this will take time, but would be great to see updates.

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