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Chichester UK Council to Extend Cityfibre’s Full Fibre Rollout

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 (2:02 am) - Score 2,569

The Chichester District Council (CDC) in West Sussex (England) has confirmed their intention to enter into a new agreement with Cityfibre, which will see the operator extend their roll-out of a new “full fibre” Ethernet and broadband network in the cathedral city in order to help it cover a further 50 public sector sites.

At present the existing Dark Fibre deployment is part of Cityfibre’s county-wide contract for West Sussex (here), which aims to connect 152 council sites in Bognor Regis, Burgess Hill, Chichester, Crawley, Haywards Heath, Horsham, Littlehampton, Shoreham and Worthing. The project is predicted to have a total lifetime value of £52.7m (here) and is partly funded by a slice of the UK Government’s Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) fund.

The aforementioned network construction is understood to have completed in Chichester and Midhurst, while it’s nearing its end in the rest of the county with an “expected go live date of early 2020.” As such some local authorities are already turning their attention to a possible extension and Chichester appears to be no exception.

In addition to this proposal, the Council is also working on a rural project with WSCC and Horsham DC to deliver a new spine providing backhaul, which will enable the ability to roll-out better connectivity in the surrounding rural areas. A separate report on this is promised for a “later date.”

CDC Statement

The original Gigabit contract with Cityfibre allowed for call offs under the existing procurement arrangement. The Everything Connects working group, which consists of all District and Borough Councils within West Sussex along with WSCC, has developed a joint approach to a further provision of dark fibre. Worthing and Adurhave already agreed to roll out connectivity to additional assets and Horsham, Crawley and Arun councils are all currently in the process of seeking approval to do so.

The proposal from Cityfibre covers Chichester, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton and CDC will be working closely with Arun District Council to ensure the benefits are realised. 50 public sector assets within Chichester would be connected to the dark fibre network. The final site list is to be agreed from a long list and it is proposed that the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and the Director of Corporate Services are delegated the authority to agree the final list of assets to be connected.

The potential benefits of this project will be realised by those who use public services within Chichester, as well as residents, businesses and visitors to Chichester. This project does not extend beyond Chichester city, however surrounding areas are likely to benefit over time.

The proposed timescales are that any design and build work would start in 2020, with the first sites being completed in late 2021 and completion expected in late 2022. The project will be managed by Cityfibre and the 7 year payment period will not commence until 90% of the sites have been connected and handed over. CDC intend to underwrite the cost of the contract, and that any costs not met by the Business Rates Pool for 2019/20, up to a maximum of £743,000 over a 7 year period starting no earlier than 2021.

Increasing the amount of gigabit capable fibre within the city will enable it to be future-ready, ensuring that it is not left behind. Signalling our commitment to full fibre as an ambition for Chichester and the wider county also increases the likelihood of accelerating the investment from commercial organisations to lead to a roll out of FTTP. This would enable homes and businesses to realise the benefits of ultra-fast connectivity,” said the council.

Deployments like this could in the future help to form the backbone of a new Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network for connecting local residential properties to Gigabit class broadband services. Indeed this is exactly what Cityfibre and Vodafone have been doing in several other UK cities, although West Sussex has some catching up to do first.

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21 Responses
  1. A_Builder says:

    An exemplar of how not to do things.

    I don’t doubt initial good intentions….but really….

    There is a serious project management issue here. And I suspect that builds were started before a full build plan and wayleaves were in place leading to the stranded assets.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Was this a response to another news article? Where is the mention of stranded assets? The council above is proposing to extend the existing plan so that it can reach even more sites at extra cost.

    2. A_Builder says:

      The article mentions a number of areas where assets have been part built.

      The council is, in one area, proposing intervening in one of those areas.

      Therefore to my logic the other assets outside of the area remain stranded.

    3. Mark Jackson says:

      I’m probably going blind with advanced age 🙂 , but where does the article say that (part built assets)?

    4. CarlT says:

      This is one Cityfibre acquired. It was probably acquired by the previous owner too. Without knowing the full heritage of it impossible to know what the issue was.

      The dot com crash stopped some building abruptly due to lack of cash. In other cases assets may have been built point to point and now lie unused.

      Not that long ago that enterprise connectivity was mostly point to point private lines after all.

    5. A_Builder says:


      I’ve cross posted – this was meant to be on the Gigclear article.

      Nothing at all to do with being distracted during my son’s nativity performance at all…….eeeeerhm…..

    6. CarlT says:

      I would hope that this is a distraction from the nativity, not the other way around.

      Bad dad! 🙂

    7. NGA for all says:

      Carl T.. indeed and some of that interpretation is being challenged in places. Demonstrating market failure where VM and BT are already offering business services is challenging when it is questioned.
      No interaction with Cityfibre, is the same as you saying the BDUK contracts are contractually between the LDB and BT/Gigaclear. There is lots of interaction.

      You have to create a loophole to show the subsidy is not state aid. It is flaky.
      It is one taxpayer pot.

  2. NGA for all says:

    By contrast Think Broadband report Arundal and South Downs Constituency at 90% ‘superfast’ coverage! Chicester at <92% Is it intended to leave these works unfinished? Monies should be available for FTTP-in fill.

    Is City Fibre intending to build past the BT cabinets to reach the last 10%?

    1. CarlT says:

      This is nothing to do with delivering consumer-grade FTTP to homes and businesses for right now and not at all as far as outside Chichester City goes.

      I’m not sure why you continuously conflate LFFN with BDUK and successors.

    2. NGA for all says:

      CarlT The article points to LFFN being used to facilitate broader FTTP rollout, so the question is valid e.g. using rural schools to reach rural communities. That is part of the PR!

      The other point is that LFFN has, whether intended or not diverting resource from completing rural to projects which are intended to address the mis-selling of private circuits where a broadband service would suffice. The latter could have been addressed through regulation- IMHO. I would argue much of LFFN is a distraction from BDUK’s original purpose.

    3. CarlT says:

      Facilitate. They’ll build to the terms of the contract. Which may in future facilitate commercial FTTP.

      It’s not a distraction. I appreciate in your world everything should immediately halt in telecoms and all resources, public and private, be immediately diverted to connecting rural areas to FTTP but in the real one organisations can do multiple things at once.

      This is an internal council IT project using a company that does not participate in BDUK, etc, so isn’t spending resources where they would be, perhaps in your opinion, better used connecting rural areas.

    4. Nga for all says:

      CARL T I am only reading the words. Cityfibre are engaging with BDUK and using subsidies to build general purpose networks, including ‘hubs’ to extend networks to communities, which does not seem very probable, but I did not realise these were just local council IT projects so thanks for the insight.

    5. Andrew Ferguson says:

      If you understand the CityFibre business model than it all makes sense…

    6. CarlT says:

      Cityfibre have been using local authorities as anchor tenants for metro rings for years. The only difference here is that part of the funding has come from the LFFN.

      This is what they do and what they have always done. Literally the only difference here is the labelling on some of the funding.

      Please show me where Cityfibre have business dealings with BDUK. I am not aware of their bidding for or being given a penny in state aid but would welcome correction.

      Interaction I am not interested in as, of course, many companies interact with BDUK. They have not and have no intention of bidding for state aid but have had ‘interaction’.

      Given how vocal you have been about this, the various posts on here, submissions to bodies, etc, that you didn’t realise the LFFN is a central government subsidy to local authority IT, not a state aided broadband programme, is astonishing.

    7. NGA for all says:

      Carl T. I have read the BDUK guidelines on LFFN and the Cityfibre model is prominent. The notion that this is not subsidy and has no state aid implications is peculiar, but less important than how customers who have yet to see an upgrade can access a retail service. It is a bit like wishing to believe BT was not flexing its gap funding models in the presence of subsidies. The law is sometimes an ass, but that should not stop folk identifying these for what they are.

    8. CarlT says:

      I’ll remedy a lack of specificity on my part:

      ‘Public Sector Anchor Tenancy and Public Sector Building Upgrade
       The DCMS assessment is that the purchase of gigabit capable internet connections by
      public bodies, either as an aggregated, regional approach or for individual sites is ‘no aid’ on the basis that it is not market distorting, as long as the public bodies only buy what they need. This will need to be considered for each individual proposal, but is reliant on the public bodies acting in the same way as a commercial body would.’

      No interaction between Cityfibre and DCMS. No state aid.

      I was referring to the Superfast Broadband Programme as BDUK.

      LFFN comes from a different funding pot nonetheless, and it is up to local authorities to demonstrate no state aid with deployments like these.

    9. Andrew Ferguson says:

      To add in lots of cases the contracts with CityFibre are replacing and also upgrading connectivity contracts that councils had with people like BT Global Services.

      I think a lot of the confusion arises from how the press releases are worded, reality is actually that any where that CityFibre has a metro network there is opportunity for future roll-out of a GPON network, as opposed to the dark/point to point/leased line type connectivity the council contracts deliver.

      There are of course the European courts for those that feel LFFN is breaking State Aid rules.

  3. Meadmodj says:

    I have always been concerned that LFFN funding is going to large urban communities and not to the smaller towns where Fibre availability requires assistance. Especially towns like Chichester that has a significant VM presence as well as BT. I don’t blame Chichester District maximising the opportunity to deliver better public services by getting a network part paid by government funds and utilising the 7 year agreement made with Cityfibre, however when you read the council documentation there appears to be no recognition or advice to councillors, at any point, that there are alternatives both now and particularly in the future to provide ultrafast to businesses and homes.
    My view is the LFFN should be used in West Sussex areas such as North Chichester (part of CDC) and Chanctonbury (part of Horsham) where there are few alternatives. This approval is for 50 sites within Chichester City yet is being supported by Councillors from North Chichester that will be excluded until a further stage. As elsewhere we are likely to see places like Chichester City becoming overbuilt 3 times or more whilst the rest of their electoral divisions remain disadvantaged for the next few years.

    1. FibreBubble says:

      Cityfibre’s state aided roll out in West Sussex as far as I can tell has not benefited any residential customers whatsoever.

      It is unbelievable that areas such as Crawley which have every player in Christendom already in play are being overbuilt by Cityfibre with government subsidy.

    2. CarlT says:

      It’s not state aid. It’s a local government contract with some subsidy from central government.

      The public sector is allowed to procure from private companies and it be considered a simple business transaction, not state aid.

      The LFFN stuff is nothing to do with state aided broadband. If you had a clue what you were talking about you’d know that it’s not possible to do an intentional state aided overbuild: it breaches state aid regulations.

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