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Connecting Cambridgeshire claims benefits from Dig Once policy for broadband ducting


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Leaders of Connecting Cambridgeshire have said its Dig Once policy to include fibre ducting in transport infrastructure has begun to produce benefits for the local community, economy and environment.

The programme, which is hosted by Cambridgeshire County Council and led by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, has so far involved the installation or planning of over 21km of fibre ducting during the construction of new road and cycleway schemes.

Fibre ducting is now being made available on a commercial basis via Light Blue Fibre, a joint venture between the county council and the University of Cambridge. This is said to make it quicker and easier for telecoms operators to extend gigabit-capable broadband networks, avoid costly, disruptive retrofitting, and to help businesses and communities get connected sooner.

The county council said that, using the Highways England calculator, the policy is also estimated to have brought carbon savings of over 20 tonnes CO2 emissions over the past two years by using fewer materials – equivalent to the carbon emissions of close to 500,000 miles driven by an average car.

Among the places to have received high speed connectivity are areas of Cambridge and Whittlesey.

Fast connectivity essential

Cllr Lorna Dupré, chair of Cambridgeshire’s environment and green investment committee, which oversees the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, said: “Fast, reliable digital connectivity is essential for modern life and it’s vital that our businesses and communities do not miss out because of the cost and complexity of connecting harder to reach places.

“The Dig Once policy is an innovative approach which not only saves time and money but also brings measurable carbon savings helping towards our net zero targets.

“The Connecting Cambridgeshire programme is working with government and network providers to fill remaining gaps in coverage across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and ensure that as many homes and businesses as possible can access gigabit capable broadband offering future proof speeds up to 1,000Mbps.”

Telecoms provider CityFibre has been among the first to use the ducting in the roll out of gigabit broadband in the area.

Its partnership director, Charles Kitchin, said: “Connecting Cambridgeshire’s Dig Once policy has proved invaluable in speeding up the rollout of gigabit broadband. Having accessible duct already in place saves time, cost, and is better both for the environment and the community as it avoids unnecessary repeated construction works in the same area.”

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