Ambitious plans for full fibre connectivity across Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire County Council is setting out forward thinking plans to increase ‘full fibre’ coverage across the county, so that homes and businesses can benefit from high speed digital connectivity and next generation mobile services.

An ambitious new target to achieve over 30% full fibre coverage across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough by 2022 is being proposed to support the county’s Connecting Cambridgeshire wide-ranging digital connectivity strategy.

The full fibre target is part of a package of plans unanimously agreed by the Economy and Environment Committee on 14 March, including innovative use of the Council’s assets to deliver better connectivity.

Rapid progress in technology means full fibre networks are vital to improving fixed, mobile and wireless connectivity, which is needed to underpin the local economy, deliver public services and support communities.

Full fibre networks bring fibre optic lines direct to properties so can support the fastest, most reliable internet access – capable of gigabit speeds, which are future-proof. Full fibre also increasingly provides the backbone for 4G and future 5G mobile services.

Fibre coverage in Cambridgeshire is already at 8.4%, which is above the national average and higher than surrounding counties. Over the next four years, the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme aims to increase the county’s fibre footprint to over 30% by:

  • Using Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) technology to complete the superfast broadband rollout, which is on track to reach over 99% of homes and businesses by 2020, including Government funding for 5000 additional premises in hard to reach rural areas.
  • Maximising commercial investment – proactively removing barriers to rolling out telecoms infrastructure through the Enabling Digital Delivery (EDD) team. In the last year, over £80m has been invested in full fibre networks across the county by commercial providers*.
  • Using the Council’s assets to support better connectivity such as making fibre ducting under the Busway and cycleways available on a commercial basis.
  •  Upgrading around 150 public buildings with full fibre to support gigabit-capable services, particularly rural areas of Huntingdonshire, East Cambridgeshire and Fenland using Government funding.
  • Creating a leading edge Council policy for fibre ducting to be included in all new transport infrastructure schemes.

The full fibre plans can be achieved within the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme’s budget, at no extra cost to the Council, following successful bids for over £14m additional EU and Government funding*, together with private investment from commercial providers.

Councillor Ian Bates, Chairman of the Economy and Environment Committee, that oversees the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, said:

Cambridgeshire County Council’s forward thinking approach to extending full fibre coverage aims to put the county at the forefront of the UK’s digital development and supports the Government’s ambition to reach 50% of the country with fibre by 2025.

“It builds upon Connecting Cambridgeshire’s strength in delivering leading digital programmes, particularly the superfast broadband rollout which will reach 97% of premises this year, and is on track to reach over 99% of the county by 2020, bringing the latest fibre to the premise technology to rural areas.

“Digital connectivity is a ‘game changer’ so we must plan ahead to increase the availability of gigabit services for homes and businesses across the county by using public sector assets innovatively and creating conditions that make it commercially viable for full fibre rollout.”

  • Visit www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk to find out more and use the postcode checker to see if you can upgrade to superfast broadband, or FTTP is planned for your area.
  • The Government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme offers funding to help businesses and nearby homes install full fibre connections. Check if you are eligible and find a local supplier at gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/