CITYFIBRE, the company that plans to turn York into the “digital capital of Britain”, has won its first Government-backed deal to provide Huddersfield and parts of Dewsbury and Batley with super fast broadband.
CityFibre has signed a long-term multi-million pound agreement with Easynet, a Government-approved communications provider, to deploy dark fibre connectivity to the area as part of an agreement with the metropolitan borough of Kirklees.
CityFibre’s head of strategy and policy Mark Collins said the deal is a first on two counts – the first deal with Easynet and the first provider to supply the public sector with the Public Sector network (PSN) framework.
Initially, CityFibre will provide connectivity to 176 public sector sites in Kirklees, West Yorkshire.
These will include a broad mix of office facilities, healthcare sites, libraries and children’s services. The eventual aim is to also link up businesses and homes to the gigabit network.
“We hope it will set the trend for a number of deals,” said Mr Collins.
“We will design and build a 72-kilometre fibre network mostly in Huddersfield, but also in Dewsbury and Batley.
“The network will open up to businesses and we always have the ability to extend it to consumers.”
The project will now go through detailed planning and the physical construction will start next year.
“We work on three months of planning and nine months of construction,” said Mr Collins.
CityFibre focuses on mid-sized towns and cities with local authorities that see the benefit of gigabit infrastructure.
“We’ve got a good partnership with Easynet and a very pro-active council. Close work with the council is always beneficial with this sort of contract,” said Mr Collins.
CityFibre said its proven track record of developing similar projects in cities such as York and Peterborough, and Easynet’s extensive experience in delivering multi-million pound Government ICT solutions, will enable both parties to deliver next generation services to key UK regional towns and cities.
Greg Mesch, chief executive officer of CityFibre, said: “In a digital age, we must ensure that our towns and cities are furnished with a next generation and future-proof digital infrastructure supporting the public and private sectors.
“Our partnership with Easynet is an exciting opportunity for local authorities up and down the country to make the most of the PSN.”
Simon Holmyard, head of public sector at Easynet, said: “There is a real opportunity for public sector customers to realise the value available under PSN by incorporating all the available infrastructure and technologies, delivering maximum flexibility and commercial value. We see CityFibre playing a significant part in this market transformation as part of our overall solutions.
“With the public sector drive towards smart working, having access to data anywhere and any time is key.”
Analyst Andrew Darley, at FinnCap, said: “CityFibre is continuing to demonstrate steady momentum of newsflow and contract wins as promised at the IPO and placing.”
CityFibre announced plans earlier this year to turn York into the UK’s first gigabit city with the fastest broadband speeds in the UK.
It has formed a joint venture with blue chip heavyweights Sky and TalkTalk to take on market leader BT in a plan they claim will put York on the map.
The new joint venture company will build a state-of-the-art, pure fibre-to-the-premise network, delivering broadband speeds of 1 gigabit (1,000 Mbps) to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in York.
The service will be city-wide and will aim to sign up between 65,000 and 85,000 customers when it launches next year.
The first part of the city to be connected will be the north and the joint venture has plans to reduce disruption to a minimum.
“We can do a road in one day. So you go to work in the morning and it’s finished when you come home,” said Mr Mesch.
The speeds will far surpass what is currently on offer – the current top speed in York is 300 Mbps and the average speed is just nine Mbps.