Suffolk County Council has awarded MLL Telecom a 20-year, £75 million contract to extend the county’s existing wide area network (WAN) with connections to over 600 public sector sites.
In addition, MLL has partnered with CityFibre to build, operate and own a 114km dark fibre spine network across 10 towns in the county to connect over 300 of those sites to a future-proof network capable of delivering gigabit speeds as standard.
The project was made possible by an award of £5.9 million to the council from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of the third wave of its Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) Challenge Fund.
It has also provided a contractual framework that can be leveraged by other local authorities to procure their own full fibre WANs.
Chris Bally, deputy chief executive at Suffolk Council, said: “Through this new 114km fibre network, our councils, NHS clinics, fire stations and more will be able to access leading edge connectivity, which will have a real economic and social impact in the region.
“Better, more reliable internet access for our public services will bring untold benefits – like more investment, more jobs, and more businesses. We couldn’t be happier to get this work underway, and to welcome the next generation of public service delivery.”
The project has begun with CityFibre commencing planning work across 10 towns: Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft, Haverhill, Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Sudbury, Stowmarket, Mildenhall and Newmarket.
MLL said its approach to the WAN, re-design of the core network, and restructure of the dark fibre network will allow Suffolk to evolve over time. This includes the ability to move to an SD-WAN self-orchestrated network, allowing for customer self-service portals.
It added that a large part of the project will also be heavily focused on delivering social value to the region, developing local digital skills in the area and ensuring these are retained in the region. It has plans to work with the council and the University of Suffolk to provide apprenticeship training programmes and courses with relevant certifications.
“Our focus is on enabling the public sector in Suffolk to work anywhere, anytime, with connectivity that is up to ten times faster than any other region in the UK as standard,” said Neil Woolerton, the company’s director of client management.
Image: Endeavour House, headquarters of Suffolk County Council, from Oxymoron