Revving up a gigabit of broadband in every home: a £31million investment in Gloucester
Last week I visited Curtis Hayward Drive in Quedgeley to see some workers in high viz jackets closing a pavement to pedestrians and then digging it up to install some fibre. What was the big deal?
Because, although temporarily irritating, this is the visible sign of one full fibre broadband coming to one of 60,000 households in Gloucester. Each of us can be connected to a gigabit of capacity – over double on average what we have at the moment – massively revving up the speeds at which we can download content for work, study or play.
Meeting CityFibre and Kier to see full fibre installed in Curtis Hayward Drive. Quedgeley
In a perfect world this would all have happened before the pandemic, but it is extremely good news that CityFibre has chosen Gloucester to be among the first cities in England to roll out a £31 million investment. (Not a penny from taxpayers either).
The project has started in Quedgeley and Grange, then swiftly into Podsmead, advancing down the Bristol Road and across the canal to Hempsted: before moving into the City Centre in 2022 and finally to Longlevens, Elmbridge, and up the Ermin Road to Barnwood and Hucclecote before finishing in 2023.
CityFibre’s investment shows two things: firstly, that our city continues to attract valuable private sector investment, creating jobs directly at local construction company Kier (which is implementing the linkage street by street, with good co-operation from Gloucestershire Highways). Secondly the indirect jobs created will be the biggest boon – enabling many of us to be more efficient working at home (and reducing broadband stress when capacity isn’t great enough). My neighbour, an insurance specialist working from home, and shielding, is a good example of someone who depends on good broadband to live in Gloucester – and there are many of us like her, let alone thousands of students and pupils studying and revising.
This also fulfils a pledge I made to all my constituents in the December 2019 election - to roll out full fibre broadband across the city by 2024. In fact I very much hope CityFibre will complete well ahead of schedule. But could anything go wrong meanwhile? Well there is one caveat.
The journey of full fibre, from exchange to beside your home, is done by CityFibre/Kier. The last bit, connecting to your computer, is the responsibility of your ISP (internet service provider). So how does that work and how much do you pay for that?
Here’s a quick Q&A on this and other (likely to be) frequent questions, but do send me any others by email on email@example.com
What is full fibre broadband?
It uses fibre optic (rather than copper) cables to deliver high speed broadband.
How do I know what speed I get at the moment?
By checking Broadband Speed Checker - UK's No.1 Broadband Speed Test on your computer. On average at the moment each home in Gloucester has a broadband speed of 446Mbps (according to Think Broadband) so one gigabit is more than twice that.
When will it happen in my street?
Between now and the end of 2023. There’s a bit of commercial sensitivity about publishing the precise maps and dates. CityFibre will make services available in areas as they move through the city, so the first Gloucester homes that can connect to the new network will be the middle of this year (2021).
Discussing the project with CityFibre and Kier teams
So how will I know?
When Highways put advance notices on your street lamp posts (as e.g. for closing parking spaces for house furniture removals or a planning application) and CityFibre will also put a note through your door before works start.
Is it noisy at anti-social hours?
There will some noise during the works but CityFibe will try to keep the disruption to a minimum and they hope to provide full fibre throughout much of Gloucester using existing BT ducts and poles rather than digging new trenches. CityFibre’s build schedule will be controlled and permitted by the local highways authority.
What will it cost?
Nothing directly. But you will have to decide which ISP (internet service provider) to use to connect the last bit. That could be your existing telecoms provider (big ones like Talk Talk, Vodafone, Sky) or you may want a smaller local company: CityFibre will announce which ISPs have joined its Gloucester network in due course.
So, will full fibre cost more?
City Fibre’s aim is that you should not pay more than you do at the moment – but it isn’t something they completely control. The key thing is to shop online for the package that suits you. I hope everyone will get full fibre at the same price as now and would like your feedback and experiences the vital home infrastructure rolls out.
One last thing we’re also considering at home: do we still need a fixed telephone line at all, or could we save money (and a host of fraudster calls) by disconnecting your landline? It’s an option we’ve started considering..