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Newcastle City to Connect Public Sector Sites via 100Gbps Fibre

Thursday, February 25th, 2021 (8:08 am) - Score 816
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The Newcastle City Council (NCC) has announced that they’ve appointed Aspire Technology Solutions – working in partnership with Virgin Media Business (Wholesale) – to extend a 100Gbps capable “full fibre” network to serve “hundreds of public sector sites across the region.”

The new project is being supported by the UK Government’s Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme, although there’s no mention of exactly how much funding is involved or precisely how many sites will be connected. We do recall a bid for £12m being approved back in 2019 from the North of Tyne Combined Authority (here), but that seemed to focus on public sector sites across rural parts of Newcastle, North Tyneside (Tyne and Wear) and Northumberland.

Meanwhile today’s announcement states that Aspire will use the new funding to extend their existing full fibre North East network, which was launched back in 2018 following a £2.5m investment. The Ultrafast Dedicated Connectivity (UDC) network was originally setup to serve businesses with broadband speeds of up to 100Gbps (Gigabits per second), but it will now also be harnessed to connect public sector sites (hospitals, police, council offices etc.).

Detailed planning for this work has already begun and the network is due to be completed by 2022. The contract itself runs for 20-years and Aspire will be expected to provide ongoing support. Aspire has also recently announced plans to move to a new HQ at the Pipewell Quay development, located on the site of the former Baja Beach Club on Gateshead Quays (this will also enable them to increase their 160-strong workforce).

Joyce McCarty, Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council, said:

“Full fibre connectivity has never been more important as it is now. COVID-19 has shown how vital digital technology is to so many aspects of our lives. At Newcastle City Council, we are committed to maintaining economic competitiveness and achieving social inclusion for our businesses and residents, having widely available, high-speed, affordable and reliable gigabit connectivity is the enabler to helping us achieve this. Aspire have already made great progress towards improving digital innovation across our region. We are excited to be working with their talented team to realise our ambitions of putting digital at the heart of our city.”

Chris Fraser, MD at Aspire, added:

“We are living and working in unparalleled times and that requires a focus on innovative outcomes. Spending cuts and the on-going pressures of COVID-19 make it an incredibly challenging time for all. Yet, there is still a huge opportunity for public services and local businesses to take a step forward in their communication and cloud capabilities to support their people and their customers.

At Aspire, our mission is to deliver technology like no other. We are dedicated to putting technology to work to help customers innovate, become more efficient and grow quicker. From enabling smart technology and giving people reliable services to work from home with ease to facilitating innovation as a result of the Internet of Things, 3D Printing and artificial intelligence – Ultrafast Dedicated Connectivity is the enabler to digital transformation.

We are delighted to be partnering with Newcastle City Council up to 2040 to deliver a state-of-the-art network which will drive better outcomes for local communities and businesses.”

LFFN projects like this often take an anchor tenancy approach, which means that the network could eventually also be harnessed to help extend gigabit broadband connectivity toward local homes (provided enough private investment can be found). However, in this case we note that Cityfibre is already investing £50m to extend their own FTTP network across the city. On top of that Virgin Media’s gigabit-capable network already covers around two-thirds of the city.

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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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