Work starts on Chester’s £23m digital transformation

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Chester is celebrating a major milestone in its digital transformation as work begins to extend its full fibre network to reach almost every home and business locally.

As part of a £23m private investment from CityFibre, Chester will benefit from the city-wide full fibre network roll-out.

This will futureproof the area’s digital connectivity by ensuring its infrastructure can service the speed and bandwidth requirements of both residents and businesses for decades to come.

According to research from economic consultancy Regeneris, full fibre connectivity will have a major impact in Chester over the next 15 years.

It shows that up to £34m could be added to the value of local homes, while Smart City initiatives could add as much as £27m locally.

Access to full fibre could also unlock £8m in business productivity and innovation, while a further £4m in growth could be driven from new business start-ups, with enhanced connectivity making it easier and less expensive to set up base and run efficiently.

Construction work has officially commenced in Upton, with the rest of the city set to follow.

Telent is delivering the construction programme on CityFibre’s behalf, using modern build techniques to deploy the network quickly.

The team is also working closely with CityFibre, Cheshire West and Cheshire Council and local communities to manage disruption and ensure a fast and successful roll-out. Meanwhile, residents are being kept informed by mailings ahead of works in their streets.

Julie Derbyshire, CityFibre’s city manager for Chester, said: “This past year has really demonstrated the remarkable versatility of the internet and how much we depend upon all things digital for work, education and social connectivity with our family and friends.

“At CityFibre we want to ensure that as many homes as possible in Chester are linked to Full Fibre – the fastest and most resilient digital infrastructure available – to make our digital experience as seamless and effective as possible.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s cabinet member for housing, regeneration and growth, Cllr Richard Beacham, said: “CityFibre’s new investment in Chester is testament to the city’s role as a driving force in our borough’s economy. It comes at a time when the council is particularly focused on economic recovery and connectivity has never been more important, both for businesses and residents.

“Alongside our own regeneration schemes, such as the Heritage Action Zone on The Rows and the new Northgate Development, as well as our ambitious plans for the area around Chester train station, this investment from CityFibre shows confidence in our city. It will help secure Chester’s position as a place that is resilient and looking to the future.”

Currently, fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) is available to less than 20% of premises across the UK. It is regarded as the best in connectivity for its speed, near unlimited bandwidth and reliability. By using fibre optic cables for every stage of the connection from the customer’s home or business to the internet, users will be offered a significantly superior and more reliable broadband service, capable of Gigabit speeds (1,000 Mbps).

The network is not yet live, but once activated, services will be available from an increasing range of broadband providers.

Across the UK, CityFibre is already working with launch partner Vodafone to deliver next generation broadband services, with Salford-based TalkTalk and other providers expected to join the network soon.