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CityFibre: taking a closer look at Cambridge’s digital revolution

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What is it like digging up almost every street in Cambridge?

Not only is it a mammoth task but it’s a project that has the potential to disrupt a significant proportion of the city’s 130,000-plus residents. Installing a brand-new full fibre network into an existing, thriving, active city is challenging. Like renovating a house, you can often come across something you didn’t expect, regardless of how well planned your approach.

The CityFibre team drilling at the kerbside (50833466)
The CityFibre team drilling at the kerbside (50833466)

This is why we are grateful for each householder’s patience when we are digging outside their front door. We hope they bear with us for those few days as, in the long term, generations to come will benefit from the future-proof connectivity we are providing in Cambridge.

CityFibre is investing £20 million installing a full fibre network in Cambridge. This means almost every home and business will be able to access gigabit-speed broadband. A full fibre network brings economic and social benefits worth millions – from Smart City to Industry 4.0 to business productivity and innovation.

The current pandemic has further highlighted the need for a fully functioning digital infrastructure as a basic necessity and as usage multiplies with increasingly data-hungry devices, the requirement for greater broadband speeds and a symmetrical service will only grow.

CityFibre is investing £20 million installing a full fibre network in Cambridge (50833481)
CityFibre is investing £20 million installing a full fibre network in Cambridge (50833481)

Of course, CityFibre’s Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) roll out also brings more immediate economic benefits in the form of about 80 jobs. On any day this week, there will be scores of construction workers from our contractor Granemore Group out and about in the city installing the network. They’re usually the ones who take the brunt of residents’ frustrations when noisy works are taking place outside their window, or they arrive home to find parking in the street is scarce because trenching is under way. Complaints are taken very seriously, logged via our hotline number 0800 083 6160, addressed and monitored to drive improvements.

But the more positive stories of residents’ gratitude for the community spirit shown by workers is heart warming. There are teams who carry shopping for elderly neighbours, support access and delivery needs, or just bring a smile to work. We’re installing hundreds of green cabinets around the city as well as a number of poles and often, due to other utilities in the foot way, requirements around distance to the carriageway, pedestrians and other factors, our placement options are limited.

The CityFibre team carrying out reinstatement works (50833489)
The CityFibre team carrying out reinstatement works (50833489)

Increasingly we’re including more aerial connection, using telephone poles to feed the cable to properties overhead, and PIA (physical infrastructure access) which means using the duct network of other telecoms infrastructure organisations to try to reduce disruption further. Our communications with residents have developed to make them more user-friendly and understandable. We launched our postcode tracker cityfibre.com/cambsindy to help residents understand when services might be available in their area.

These changes will continue as we learn and grow. Cambridge is one of the first and CityFibre has already announced it is bringing gigabit-speed broadband to eight million homes in more than 60 towns and cities, as well as providing wholesale connectivity to multiple business and consumer service providers, local authorities and mobile operators.

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