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VXFIBER Begins 1Gbps FTTP Broadband Build in Colchester UK

Thursday, March 18th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 1,248
Bundle of optical fibers with lights in the ends lay on keyboard.

Swedish operator VXFIBER (inc. subsidiary LilaConnect) will today announce the start of their multi-million pound project to deploy a new Dark Fibre and gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP network across the large town of Colchester in Essex (England), which aims to cover c.25,000 premises.

The new rollout will adopt a similar approach to their other major deployment in the Staffordshire city of Stoke-on-Trent (here). The first part of this involves Colchester Borough Council‘s (CBC) project to extend their existing Dark Fibre network to reach more public sector sides and businesses, which is being supported by a public investment of £3.24m from the UK Government’s Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) fund (here).

On top of that, VXFIBER are planning to invest around £10m (this is an older figure as today’s announcement doesn’t include one) of their own money in order to deploy a new FTTP network to help cover around 25,000 homes and smaller businesses across the town, although initially their first target appears to be 8,000 premises.

The build phase for all of this was originally planned to begin in Q2 2020 (here), initially focusing on the Greenstead, Wivenhoe and West Mersea areas. But that expectation was set just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit last February and thus the deployment is clearly now starting quite a bit later than expected.

Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said:

“We welcome this forward-thinking partnership with VX Fiber and the start of works to enable over 8,000 homes and businesses within Colchester to benefit from direct access to full fibre gigabit broadband connectivity. VX Fiber’s investment in Colchester builds on our own Council project to expand ultra-fast broadband around the town. This benefits businesses, residents and the Council’s budget, all in one go.

This significant investment will support the growing demands of home working and study, boost business innovation and growth, and help entice digitally aware businesses into the borough.”

Mikael Sandberg, Chairman at VX Fiber, said:

“We are excited to get started in Colchester, to bring a secure, fast and reliable full fibre network to residents and businesses in the area. Access to gigabit connectivity is an integral part of 21st century living. But it’s much more than just streaming video and music or online shopping. It’s also about transforming communities with ‘smart’ initiatives and improvements such as better access to employment, education and healthcare – there will be no restrictions on the introduction of new applications and services as the FTTP infrastructure is future-proof.”

Sadly, VXFIBER’s announcement doesn’t state where the build has started or how long it will take to complete, although we recall that their original proposal was based on securing a 40% share of the available market within 5 years (by 2026). This equates to some 25,000 properties connected to their gigabit-enabling networks.

We should point out that the operator’s subsidiary, LilaConnect, is the one responsible for marketing, selling, installing and maintaining the connections from this new infrastructure to residents and businesses. Lila supplies access via a number of ISPs – such as Air Broadband, Breeze Fibre and Pure Broadband etc.

In terms of local competition, we note that the majority of Colchester is already covered by another gigabit-capable rival in the shape of Virgin Media. Local ISP County Broadband, which tends to focus more on rural areas, has also deployed into some surrounding areas (outside the town itself). Meanwhile, Openreach, Hyperoptic and OFLN all have a few small patches of full fibre connectivity in the town, but nothing too significant.

Assuming all goes well than VXFIBER has previously talked about holding future plans to rollout across Bristol and then, later, possibly up to 7 more UK cities.

Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Jason Maker says:

    Seems like a waste of time to me , all these different companies digging up colchester .

    1. CJ says:

      They are not all digging up the same places. Most of the fibre is limited to new builds (there’s a lot of housebuilding activity in the town and the different builders are using different providers) or the surrounding villages.

      This rollout is very welcome in the parts of town that don’t have Virgin.

    2. GNewton says:

      Well, Greenstead already has VM and FTTC, and Wivenhoe has FTTC, too, as far as I know.

      The issue of building multiple fibre access networks into the same place is part of a wider issue of a wrong government framework and policy with regards to fibre deployment. Fibre needs to be treated like an important utility, just like water or electricity. You don’t build multiple water pipes or power lines into the same premise. The same should be true with fibre.

    3. Fastman says:

      Gnewton

      your assumtions and rational are totally incorrect fibre is nothing like water, gas etc, people call it the fourth utility. lesser now in rural because if you then ask where 1, 2 and 3 uility are arrived or when they arrived they will tell you , no mains, generator power, septic tank – so you dont have utility 1 – 3 but you must have 4

    4. CJ says:

      The mains water, gas and electric don’t need constant upgrades to the service level. What could a competing electricity distribution network offer me that my current one can’t?

      If broadband was like electricity, just give everyone ADSL and that’s job done for 50 years, we can all access the internet like we can all turn on the lights.

      Broadband is different from the other utilities. People have different wants and needs, some of which require the network to be upgraded from time to time. The cycle of periodic upgrades is never going to stop, GPON will eventually need upgrading to XGPON, etc.

      It should be clear by now that on average, people in competitive areas get access to better broadband services than people in monopoly areas. The regulatory focus on encouraging competition at the infrastructure level in more areas is the right way to go for the long-term.

  2. Jason says:

    Dont get too excited. I live in stoke and this was announced 3years ago. Still not yet available and won’t be at least until 2023 in my area of basford which is just 0.7miles from there fiber exchange

    I was informed on 2 separate occasions when wanting to know an approximate date by support staff that Basford was in Newcastle and not stoke so won’t be getting it at all! I did correct them ,just hope they updated their system!

    1. CJ says:

      They were recently advertising for fibre splicing gangs starting in April for a 4-5 year project, so their rollout in Colchester may be just as slow as their one in Stoke.

      Their website is odd, the postcode checker doesn’t give a result it just goes straight to a page for registering details, which I took as a ‘no’ but it’s not clear.

      Luckily the Essex BDUK gigabit consultation was also announced today, I’m currently in scope for intervention (no gigabit-capable services planned within 3 years) so if Lila don’t plan to reach me within that timescale I may get something from the BDUK scheme instead.

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