Left to right: Professor Ian Leslie (Chair of the LBF Board), Jon Holgate (Operations Director), Noelle Godfrey (Commercial Director), Ritchie Carter (Operations Manager), Mark Andrews (Commercial Manager)
An innovative joint venture launched on 11 July 2019 by the University of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire County Council is opening up new opportunities for full fibre networks to expand Cambridgeshire’s digital infrastructure.
The new company, Light Blue Fibre Ltd, will see the University unite its technological expertise with the Council’s ambition to deliver better digital connectivity across the city and beyond, by making both organisations’ extensive duct and fibre networks available on a commercial basis.
One of the first of its kind in the UK, this forward-thinking initiative will offer access to over 100km of existing ducting and dark fibre on a wholesale basis.
Light Blue Fibre aims to attract telecoms companies, infrastructure providers and local technology businesses who understand the importance of full fibre connectivity and are looking to save time and money by reducing the need for expensive and time-consuming infrastructure developments.
The establishment of the company was supported at Cambridgeshire County Council’s Commercial & Investment Committee in February this year, when the go ahead was given for the development and commercialisation of the two organisations’ existing fibre ducting assets.
Board Members from the University of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire County Council formally signed an agreement to create the joint venture in May 2019, and the official launch of Light Blue Fibre took place today (Thursday 11 July) at the University of Cambridge’s historic Combination Room.
Both the University and the Council have plans to further expand their duct and fibre assets and this pioneering collaboration will help businesses to access infrastructure that would otherwise be unavailable to them, so promoting competition and innovation.
The County Council’s available fibre assets include ducting that is already incorporated into the construction of the Guided Busway, and will be included in all new major road, path and cycle projects following recently approved council policy to include fibre ducting during construction to extensively expand council’s network of infrastructure over the coming years.
The Granta Backbone Network (GBN) is the University’s privately owned optical fibre network. Covering a large proportion of the historic city already, it radiates out to strategic locations delivering high speed, high-availability network services to colleges, institutions and research bodies linked to the University.
Professor Ian Leslie, Chair of the Board for Light Blue Fibre, said: “This is a very exciting joint venture. The development of Light Blue Fibre will make the existing and future ducting and fibre assets of two major networks in Cambridgeshire available for community and commercial use. It will provide local businesses, government, health and the education sector with cutting edge digital infrastructure, capable of meeting their data connectivity and communication needs for now and into the future and it gives the University more opportunities for wider connectivity.”
Noelle Godfrey, Board Member for Cambridgeshire County Council, who leads the Connecting Cambridgeshire Digital Connectivity Programme, said: “Connectivity is a vital element of the Government’s national digital strategy which provides a foundation for economic strength, thriving communities and successful localities.
“Cambridgeshire County Council and University Information Services network team have developed a strong collaboration over a number of years of joint working to the benefit of the local community and businesses alike, and this is the next step.”
Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: “Through our modern Industrial Strategy we’re building a nationwide full fibre network to make the UK fit for the future.
“Local partnerships in Cambridgeshire are sharing resources and infrastructure in a new way to help realise this vision, bringing about a significant boost in gigabit speeds for the benefit of homes and businesses in rural areas.”
The formation of Light Blue Fibre makes current and future fibre assets of the University and the Council available on a wholesale basis, with no minimum term, providing quick and easy access. More information can be found here: www.lightbluefibre.co.uk.