Commsworld — the Edinburgh-based telecommunications network provider and ISP — has been awarded a £22 million Northumberland County Council contract to transform the county’s digital infrastructure.
The contract was given to the Scots firm as part of the Council’s efforts to embrace a long-term approach to infrastructure and connectivity, in line with its digital strategy. It involves replacing its ageing Wide Area Network (WAN) with full-fibre infrastructure, which will give communities across Northumberland access to faster, higher-quality, and more reliable connectivity.
To deliver on the contract, Commsworld will provide 262km of new fibre infrastructure to nearly 150 Northumberland council sites, granting roughly 120,000 residential and business properties with Fibre To The Premises (FTTP). It’s said that many of these residents and businesses have never had access to gigabit-capable fibre networks before.
Commsworld will be facilitating the service over a 20-year period, but by 2026 the planned installation of a 262km cable will transform connectivity to nearly 150 council sites and enable access to more than 120,000 residential and business properties to Fibre To The Premises (FTTP), many of which have never had access to gigabit-capable fibre networks before.
Northumberland’s updated infrastructure will be linked to Commsworld’s Optical Core Network (OCN) — a next-generation network, built specifically to boost security and resilience of digital infrastructure to organisations across the length and breadth of the UK.
The OCN will act as the ‘spine’ from which wholesale fibre broadband providers can branch out into Northumberland’s towns and rural areas at reduced rates, so communities can benefit from improved digital connectivity of up to one gigabit per second for gigabit-capable fibre broadband.
Further, building on and migrating services to the new dark fibre digital infrastructure will help with futureproofing Northumberland’s digital backbone.
For instance, Commsworld plans to utilise the infrastructure established by the recent Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) project funded by the Government, which will result in a bettered internet connectivity for 110 Northumberland schools.
Leader of Northumberland County Council, Councillor Glen Sanderson, commented on the Commsworld contract, saying: “This long-term approach marks a new and historic way forward for the council and its positive impact cannot be underestimated.
“We are one of the first rural counties in England to focus on changing the lives of our communities by not only providing the infrastructure to give them ground-breaking access to full-fibre broadband, but future-proofing the system so it can adapt and grow according to the needs of everyone who lives and works in Northumberland.
“Above all, it will directly tackle digital exclusion, especially for those in our rural areas. Equality of access is vital if we want to improve the lives of all our citizens.
“Providing access to significantly enhanced internet connections will go a very long way to bridging this digital divide and benefit all our schoolchildren, parents and families, as well as our businesses and organisations.”
Bruce Strang, Chief Operating Officer of Commsworld, also said: “Commsworld welcomes securing this contract to replace Northumberland’s WAN network.
“This is our first major contract of this kind in England, having similarly delivered massively enhanced infrastructure to local authorities in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire and the Scottish Borders.
“We are looking forward to bringing the full, transformative benefits of our Optical Core Network to Northumberland.
“Through the network, and working with our partners – including forward-thinking local fibre providers such as Alncom – we can provide a step change in connectivity and resiliency right across the county, bringing huge benefits to all those who live, learn and work there. I have no doubt that the digital infrastructure we provide will benefit the whole of Northumberland.”