Stoke-on-Trent – A smart, sustainable ‘Gigabit city’

Stoke-on-Trent City Council to use VXFIBER Open Access platform to support full fibre broadband connectivity for residents and businesses.
A smart, sustainable ‘Gigabit city’

VXFIBER, the Swedish provider of Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) Open Access solutions, has partnered with Stoke-on-Trent City Council to roll out Gigabit full fibre connectivity to residents and businesses. With an initial project in the city’s Enterprise Zone, the rollout of a full city-wide fibre network is a vital part of Stoke-on-Trent’s move towards becoming a smart, sustainable ‘Gigabit city’.

As part of an initial project Stoke-on-Trent City Council says it plans to extend full-fibre Gigabit connectivity to the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone, one of 26 enterprise zones across the UK. Ceramic Valley is a 140 hectares site with excellent road and rail connectivity in a strategic central location with access to the whole UK. The enterprise zone is transforming brownfield land into sites tailor-made for businesses to locate to and has so far attracted more than 1,000 jobs.

“Stoke-on-Trent has a brilliant central geographic location, which is boosting its economic growth beyond what much of the rest of the UK is experiencing at the moment. We’re in the top 10 fastest growing economies outside of London, we already have some of the fastest average 4G mobile download speeds in the country and are developing an innovative district heat network to supply sustainable energy to business and residents.

“We’re serious about becoming a sustainable, smart city. However, the traditional part copper based broadband offering currently available simply isn’t good enough to keep pace with the fast-changing connectivity demands of today’s increasingly digital society and economy,” explained councillor Abi Brown, deputy leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

“Full fibre Gigabit connectivity addresses these needs and is the cornerstone of our vision for the future growth and prosperity of our city and its residents and businesses. VXFIBER is playing a significant role in realising this vision in a way that’s practical, affordable and flexible, to adapt and grow alongside our city and its connectivity needs.”

Under the scheme, Stoke-on-Trent City Council say it will retain complete ownership of the city ring fibre network; it already owns the main ducts across the city and will utilise these to connect all parts of the city. VXFIBER role will be to ‘light up’ the fibre and supply the platform for operators and service providers to build and launch their own services to run over the network. The VXFIBER platform is set to enable the Council to monetise its infrastructure and receive a return on its investment in a completely open access ecosystem where all service providers are welcome to deliver their services.

The VXFIBER Open Access platform aims to deliver better value and reduced service delivery costs for Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which is in line with its objective to support disadvantaged citizens with affordable broadband access. Broadband plays an increasingly important role for delivering benefits online to those who cannot collect them in person.

The open access VXFIBER platform will also encourage healthy competition among service providers whilst giving the users wider choice. It will provide a level playing field for operators and service providers of all sizes – including smaller, independent regional players – to host their services on and compete on features and price.

This model also allows for alternative investors in the fibre deployment typically undertaken only by the telecoms industry. With this model, other investors – including housing associations, developers and other land owners – can ensure their buildings or developments can benefit from full fibre and get connected to the Stoke-on-Trent Gigabit city network.

VXFIBER executive chairman Mikael Sandbergs says, “Our work with Stoke-on-Trent City Council provides a template for other UK local authorities and regional governments to follow. By investing in and installing Gigabit-speed fibre themselves, local authorities and councils can take charge of their community’s “digital destiny”, without having to rely on third party telecom operators or ISPs.”

Mikael continues, “Councils can reap the economic and social benefits of full fibre Gigabit connectivity in a way that’s affordable and future-proof. Furthermore, the fibre they invest in is a valuable asset that will deliver ongoing revenue and ROI.”

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