Stoke-on-Trent residents could soon get ‘fastest broadband in the country’
21st March 2019
The 1 gigabit per second speeds would make a big impact for internet users in the Potteries.
The city council plans to build one of the fastest broadband networks in the country – thanks to £9.2 million of Government funding.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council says the ‘full fibre’ project will provide residents and businesses with internet speeds in excess of 1 gigabit per second, potentially giving the local economy a multi-million pound boost.
And as the council will own the 60-mile-long network, which is due to be up and running by 2021, it could also generate new revenue for the authority.
The council has been allocated capital funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for the scheme through the Local Full Fibre Networks programme.
Faster broadband helps with streaming. ‘Full fibre’ broadband means fibre optic cables run all the way up to properties – normally copper cables, which can slow download speeds, are used to connect buildings to the larger network.
The new network could allow download speeds in excess of 1 gigabit per second – meaning a high definition TV episode could be downloaded in less than 10 seconds, rather than the minutes it takes with conventional broadband.
Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “A fast broadband connection is now an essential service for residents and businesses and with these plans Stoke-on-Trent will be leading the way nationally – helping us to attract even more top companies, jobs and investment.
“The new network would have a huge, long-term impact, helping to future proof our city and transform communities with improvements such as better access to employment, education and healthcare.
“The revenue from the ownership of the broadband network would also provide income for the council which can help us to fund the vital services which residents rely on.
“This is a major project for Stoke-on-Trent and will play a key part in our plans for Stoke-on-Trent to become a smart city – using infrastructure, information and technology to improve life for everyone who lives, works and visits here.”
The Government funding will pay for the fibre to be installed in the council’s existing Stoke-on-Trent Private Optical Network (Spon) ducting, which spans the city.
Swedish firm VX Fiber, which has won the contract to be the council’s delivery partner, will provide match funding to extend the network to tens of thousands of properties.
The plans build on a pilot scheme in Etruria Valley, which the council announced last year.
Mr Jellyman added: “The original offer from the Government was for £4 million, which would have been enough for a network covering the city centre and Etruria. But for just £5 million more we said we could built a network covering the entire city.”
A council report says the project will deliver numerous benefits for the city, including an increase in business start-ups, reduced isolation for older residents and the roll-out of connected health technologies.
Janine Bridges, cabinet member for education and economy, said: “These plans will provide a huge boost for our local economy – laying the foundation for future growth and job creation.
“Ultrafast broadband speeds will be a major draw for businesses – including those looking to expand or relocate. Many top companies now expect and depend on an instant connection to global markets and these plans will make Stoke-on-Trent an even more enticing destination for those major firms.”
Work on the network is due to start in April, with completion due by March 2021.