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Dark fibre sees the light of day in Dudley

Dudley is set to benefit from an investment to roll out an ultrafast full fibre network to speed up the delivery of council services has been announced following an innovative partnership between the local authority and Virgin Media Business.

A project to roll out an ultrafast full fibre network to speed up the delivery of council services has been announced following an innovative partnership between the local authority and Virgin Media Business.

The authority has negotiated a five-year contract with the communications giant which allows it to ‘rent’ the company’s fibre cables, using it exclusively for council traffic and managing its own data provision and speeds. By renting Virgin Media’s network, the council can provide a multi-gigabit connection to all sites, with a minimum of 1Gbps, with some locations starting at 10Gbps; the national average is 500Mbps.

The authority has been leading the way in self-provisioned networking, having successfully used dark fibre between its data centres and campus building for 20 years, allowing large volumes of data to be moved around at speed. Thanks to the partnership with Virgin Media Business, the new fibre network is now being extended to 178 remote locations including council buildings, libraries, and 105 schools.

The project means more of the authority’s sites will benefit from a more reliable, robust internet infrastructure with greater bandwidth and the ability to adapt to service needs. Council business will be achieved more quickly and securely, whilst also improving customer engagement and experience. Schools can rely on the network to deliver ultrafast broadband to their sites, enabling better and more innovative digital learning methods.

The project allows the authority to deliver next-generation services in a cost-effective manner while also significantly increasing the reach of gigabit ready networks across the borough. The initiative will also support Virgin Media Business to extend its fibre network, covering more of the borough with future-proof connectivity and paving the way for more businesses and residents to benefit from ultrafast services in future.

Virgin Media have also made significant investment throughout the West Midlands increasing the footprint of ultrafast 1Gbps connectivity to citizens and businesses alike. Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member responsible for ICT, said: 

"We’re always trying to find ways to innovate in Dudley and while many local authorities are beginning to come on board with dark fibre provision, we actually invested in dark fibre more than 20 years ago to move data between our sites.

"This partnership with Virgin Media Business will allow us to roll out this state of the art technology to all of our council offices and schools, providing superfast and adaptable bandwidths where they are needed. By controlling the cable ourselves we can ensure robust, reliable broadband which will allow us to do our job even better.

"We hope to complete the roll out to publicly accessible facilities like leisure centres and libraries allowing residents to access super-fast broadband through the free Dudley Connect wifi available in all council buildings by the end of September this year."

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