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CityFibre insist two years of disruptions will be worth it

PUBLISHED: 05:30 17 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:07 17 September 2020

Charles Kitchin of CityFibre. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Charles Kitchin of CityFibre. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Engineers installing the new network for CityFibre have come under fire in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds as traffic is held up by temporary lights and householders have found the road outside their homes dug up.

CityFibre work caused problems in Norwich Road. Picture: PAUL GEATERCityFibre work caused problems in Norwich Road. Picture: PAUL GEATER

But City Manager Charles Kitchin, who is responsible for planning and telling people about the company’s work across the region, insists the short-term pain will be worthwhile because of the long-term gain for households and businesses.

He said all the work, including the roadworks that have caused problems in part of Ipswich, had been cleared with local councils: “I think some of the work was allowed because there has been less traffic on the road over the last few months.”

MORE: Triple whammy for drivers as CityFibre moves in



The work in Ipswich had started in February and is due to be complete by the autumn of 2022. By then every home and business should have access to fibre broadband – it will be up to individual service providers like Sky, Talk Talk, or BT Internet to decide whether they use them. But with speeds of up to 900Mbps Mr Kitchin said demand would probably come from customers.

He said: “We’ve seen how people rely on broadband over the last few months with more people working at home. They may say ‘we don’t need those speeds’ now – but the average home has 10 devices connected to broadband. If there are children they might have 15.

CityFibre engineers have been working in north west Ipswich. Picture: CITYFIBRECityFibre engineers have been working in north west Ipswich. Picture: CITYFIBRE

“But in 10 years time each home may have 50 connected devices, including the doorbell, the fridge, the heating system, other things you would not dream of now. This technology that we are installing should future-proof that for the next 50 years.”

He said research suggested fast broadband could put 3%-5% on the value of a home.

Work in the west of Ipswich along the Norwich Road corridor should be finished by the end of this year. Ipswich will eventually have two fibre exchanges, each serving up to 48,000 properties, with work starting in the east of the town during the winter.

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Mr Kitchin said it was important to tell residents what was happening in their area: “Normally we would hold meetings and have question and answer sessions. That has not been possible because of the pandemic.

“We have sent leaflets to every property in an area just as we start working there – but we know people get a lot of junk mail and these may have been thrown away by that. But our contact details are available on line if people have problems and we have details there of what is happening and when it should be completed for a given area.”

What is fibre broadband – and why is it being installed now?

The CityFibre work currently underway in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft is part of a £4bn investment in fibre broadband that was announced by the government at the end of last year.

Each property costs an average of £500 to connect up, so the 70,000 properties in the Ipswich area (which includes Kesgrave, Martlesham, and Pinewood) is a £35m investment.

CityFibre is owned by Goldman Sachs and technology investor Antin and is installing fibre networks in cities across the UK from Inverness to Poole on the south coast. Ipswich, Bury and Lowestoft are among the first in this region to get underway – work in Norwich starts next year.

It aims to create “Gigabit Cities” offering customers broadband speeds of more than 900Mbps by bringing fibre technology direct to the property – at present most internet connections bring fibre to an outdoor cabinet and the last leg to the property is through copper cable.


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