In July, a group of Business West Initiative members including The Bristol Port Company, Bristol Sport, First Bus, Wessex Water, Watershed, Bristol University, Bristol City Council and others had the opportunity to meet Openreach’s strategic infrastructure development director Kim Mears to hear first-hand about their Fibre First programme.
Kim explained that Bristol has been selected as one of nine UK cities to be part of the Fibre First programme which will see faster roll-out more reliable Fibre-to-the-Premises technology.
Many businesses are hindered by slow internet. The laying of fibre optic cables from the exchange right to the front door offers increased bandwidth which will enable business to deploy and adopt more technological solutions. It will support future data-hungry services and applications such as cloud based apps, virtual reality and automated devices. It can change the way the city works – enabling employees to reliably work from home and can enable the tech and digital sector to thrive and innovate.
At the breakfast meeting Kim Mears explained to our members how 26,000 homes in Bedminster now have full fibre and her team are connecting a further 2000 homes each week. The roll out will continue in Bristol North, Easton and Whitchurch.
Kim said: “Bristol already has access to extensive high-speed broadband, with more than 97 per cent of households and businesses now able to connect at 30Mbps and over*.”
“We’re taking this to the next level across the city by building an ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises network that’s much more reliable and capable of 1Gbps speeds – that’s about 24 times faster than the current UK average of 44Mbps. This large-scale deployment will benefit businesses and residents alike.”
“Our work in Bristol is going extremely well. So far, our engineers have installed around 250 kilometres of fibre optic cable and are on average passing around 2000 premises a week. We will continue to invest and recruit in the south west and across the UK to build the most capable, highly skilled, national fibre delivery machine in the UK.”
Welcoming the developments, Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative Chief Executive at Business West, James Durie, said: “Fast and reliable digital connectivity is crucial for businesses in this modern era and it’s brilliant news that Openreach have selected Bristol as one of the first cities in the UK to experience fibre first broadband.”
“Openreach’s world-leading digital infrastructure will boost our regional economy, support employment and help shape our city. I’m delighted that Bristol is at the forefront of ultrafast broadband and that both our businesses and residents will benefit.”
Cllr Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for Finance, Governance and Performance, said: “It is great to be a part of this announcement today. Bristol has a great reputation for being at the forefront of technology with our strong local industry.”
“I am hopeful that this will help to make sure even more local people are able to benefit from this reputation and will help small local businesses to update their technology and help deliver on our commitments to make Bristol the UK's best digitally connected city.”
Other members welcomed the investment commenting on how Bristolians were fast to take up new technologies and as a city we have historically underestimated the pace of take up. Investing in digital infrastructure will be key for Bristol to be in the race, giving it everything in its arsenal to attract inward investment, grow the tech and digital sector and improve productivity across all businesses.
It’s a further boost for Bristol, following the announcement earlier this year that Openreach is looking to recruit more than 450 new trainee engineers across the south west to help deliver ultrafast broadband.