Work to upgrade to future proof Gigabit connectivity in Portsmouth will begin next year as part of a £3.8m agreement between CityFibre and Portsmouth City Council.

CityFibre, the UK’s leading alternative provider of wholesale full fibre infrastructure, has announced it has been awarded a 20-year contract by Portsmouth City Council (PCC) to extend the area’s existing public sector network, bringing future-proof full fibre connectivity to hundreds of key public sector sites. CityFibre will design, build, operate and own the full fibre network, providing Portsmouth and surrounding areas with a digital infrastructure platform that will underpin the city’s next phase of technological transformation.

The new network will help to upgrade the delivery of frontline public sector services, lowering operational costs and boosting productivity. It will also help meet the growing demand from residents for digital services, support the improvement of educational resources and bridge the digital divide.

Further private sector investment will provide Portsmouth’s business community with access to ultra-reliable Gigabit speed services from a range of business Internet Service Providers, including local partners Vostron and M12.

Construction in Portsmouth is set to begin in early 2020, extending the existing 34km network, connecting public sector sites in Portsea Island, Fareham, Gosport, Cosham, Havant and Waterlooville. The rollout is expected to take 18 months to two years to complete with sites becoming live on the network throughout the process.

Portsmouth was among the second wave of locations in the UK to benefit from the Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) challenge fund awarded by DCMS to help transform the public sector estate within Portsmouth to full fibre. PCC secured £3.8m from DCMS and has used it to scope and procure the Solent framework, a multi-lot framework available to public sector bodies in the Solent region. Portsmouth is the first call off under the framework and CityFibre has been awarded sole supplier status of the infrastructure lot. A second lot for the active services is currently in final negotiations, with an announcement expected to follow shortly.

The construction programme will be delivered by CCN on CityFibre’s behalf. They will use modern build techniques to deploy the network quickly, while working closely with Portsmouth City Council, PCC’s PFI partner Colas and local communities to manage disruption and ensure a fast and successful rollout.

Rob Hamlin, Chief Commercial Officer at CityFibre said: “This is another landmark moment for CityFibre as it has been entrusted to deliver yet another major piece of critical public sector fibre infrastructure. This project will play a key role in transforming Portsmouth into a modern, fully connected, digital city. As the UK continues on its path to full fibre by 2025, it’s pleasing to see local authorities get ahead of the game by future proofing their public sector estates with full fibre infrastructure ready to meet the needs of an increasingly digital public sector.”

Cllr Suzy Horton, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “This project means Portsmouth is set to compete on an international level for businesses and become a prime place for any looking for a UK location. However what I’m most excited about is the benefits this will bring to schools and communities.

“The difference enriched learning opportunities can make to children is immeasurable and this new network can mean pupils in Portsmouth schools will be able to access cutting-edge technology and be at the forefront of the latest developments in education.”

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