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Colchester broadband firm celebrates national ‘innovation’ recognition

25 Aug Colchester broadband firm celebrates national ‘innovation’ recognition

County Broadband has been shortlisted to win ‘The Barrier Removal Award’ at the industry-leading event taking place at the Business Design Centre in London on September 21-22.

Following a £46m private investment from Aviva Investors, County Broadband is building full-fibre broadband infrastructure in over 100 rural communities in East Anglia to provide thousands of homes and businesses with access to some of the UK’s fastest and most reliable digital connectivity.

Full-fibre networks deliver fibre cables directly into homes and businesses, replacing existing Superfast connections which are often promoted as fibre but rely on slow copper cables which date back to the Victorians and cannot be upgraded to support the nation’s growing data demands.

County Broadband has been shortlisted after becoming one of the first altnets (alternative network providers) in the country to partner with UK Power Networks (UKPN), which distributes electricity to London, the South East and the East of England, and secure access to its infrastructure.

Rising numbers of altnets like County Broadband are providing vital competition across the industry and are delivering full-fibre services to hard-to-reach areas that would otherwise be overlooked by major providers.

The partnership with UKPN was reached after 18 months of research and trials. It aims to rapidly accelerate the deployment speed of full-fibre networks in rural areas which can take over a year to design, build and deliver after each village in the rollout gives the go-ahead to the proposals.

Lloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, based in Aldham near Colchester, said: “We are delighted to have received national recognition for our innovative and joined-up approach to rolling out future-ready full-fibre broadband in rural and remote areas of East Anglia.

“We are pioneering this method to demonstrate its viability to the industry and I’m confident it will change the way rural full-fibre broadband is delivered.

“Installing new infrastructure on this scale is a complex task, requiring significant planning and can take time to deliver. It involves the coordination of highways, landowners, civils works and advanced fibre optic engineering.

“But by working with UK Power Networks’ infrastructure, we can strategically design and maximise each network to remove key barriers, dramatically speed up the build process, and reduce the overall cost. It also reduces disruption within our local communities.”

A UK Power Networks spokesperson said: “Working with County Broadband we have developed an innovative opportunity to utilise our networks to rapidly deploy their infrastructure. We look forward to working with them as one of the first altnet (alternative network providers) partners to deliver great connectivity to rural communities.”

Full-fibre broadband uses fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) infrastructure where fibre cables are installed directly into the premises. Speeds of 1,000 Mbps are available which can be upgraded to 10,000 Mbps in the future. The FTTP infrastructure replaces the Victorian fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) copper-based infrastructure on which ‘Superfast’ broadband is based.

Lloyd Felton, who is delivering a talk ‘The rural issue: Delivering gigabit connectivity for the hardest to reach’ at the Connected Britain event, added: “The pandemic has elevated broadband to an essential utility, and while our region has just about coped, the increasing demands on data means it won’t be long before existing networks can’t cope. We’re playing our part in ensuring rural homes and businesses have the full-fibre connectivity they need not just now, but for generations to come.”

County Broadband has also been shortlisted in the Best Rural ISP (Internet Service Provider) category at the ISPA Awards 2021, run by the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA UK).

The Connected Britain Awards 2021 winners will be announced on the first day of the key industry event at the Business Design Centre, London, on September 21.