Work to transform Southend into one of the world’s best digitally connected towns has started.

Southend is celebrating a major milestone in its digital transformation as work has begun to extend its existing full fibre network to nearly every home and business in the town.

As part of £30m private investment from CityFibre, Southend is among the first locations in the UK to benefit from the state-of-the-art full fibre roll-out. Vodafone UK will be using CityFibre’s network to bring Vodafone Gigafast Broadband services to the town, meaning residents will soon be able to enjoy the fastest, most reliable gigabit-speed connectivity.

Construction work has commenced in the Eastwood Park and Progress Road industrial areas. The first homes and businesses will be able to connect to the network by the end this year, with works projected to be largely complete by 2022.

Intelligent Telecommunications Ltd. is delivering the construction programme on CityFibre’s behalf.  They will use modern build techniques to deploy the network quickly, while working closely with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and local communities to manage disruption and ensure a fast and successful roll-out. Residents will be kept informed by door-to-door teams as well as mailings ahead of works in their streets.

Aideen Sadler, CityFibre’s City Manager for Southend-on-Sea, said: “For people across Southend, their digital future is just around the corner. Work is now underway in both the Eastwood Park and Progress Road industrial areas and the first homes will soon be able to access full fibre. That is something to be celebrated.

“Full fibre broadband will help households access all the latest entertainment at gigabit speeds, but the benefits are far deeper than that – from enabling smart home technology to giving people the freedom to work from home with ease.

“The investment also comes at a critical time for Southend’s forward-thinking business community. Next generation full fibre connectivity can drive innovation and productivity, ultimately giving businesses the platform they need to realise their growth ambitions. And it won’t just improve business locally – it will also help businesses take their products or services to an international audience.”

According to research from economic consultancy Regeneris, full fibre connectivity will have a major impact in Southend over the next 15 years. It shows that up to £93m could be added to the value of local homes, while Smart City initiatives could add as much as £31m locally. Access to full fibre could also unlock £24m in business productivity and innovation, while a further £15m 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.

Neil Blagden, Director of Digital & Commercial Operations, Vodafone UK, said: “Broadband is the linchpin of modern life. Full fibre broadband provides dramatic improvement in speed and reliability. It will help transform the way residents work, study and relax. It is really exciting to bring cutting-edge Vodafone Gigafast Broadband to the town as we want Southend to be at the forefront of the full fibre revolution.”

Cllr Ian Gilbert Leader of the Council added: “I am delighted to welcome CityFibre to Southend and make it a ‘Gigabit City’, allowing residents and businesses to take advantage of some of the fastest connection speeds in the UK.”

“Inevitably installing this physical network will involve some disruption for residents, but I am convinced that it is essential for our future prosperity. Connectivity has become one of the most important factors for businesses in making their investment decisions, and I am convinced that this alongside our location, our vibrant cultural scene and entrepreneurial track record, Southend could become one of the most attractive places in the UK to do business.”

Currently, fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) is only available to less than eight per cent of premises across the UK. It is revered 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).

To find out more about CityFibre’s Gigabit City vision for Southend visit: cityfibre.com/southend-on-sea

Those interested in Vodafone’s Gigafast Broadband services can register their interest online at vodafone.co.uk/Gigafast/register

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