The Bristol Network

The result of a thorough and well-structured tender process has seen two Altnets, Net Support UK and ITS Technology Group, join forces in order to deliver ultrafast broadband across Bristol city, forming part of the GigaBit Bristol (Super Connected Cities) programme.

The contract with Bristol City Council plans to use a network of ducts underneath Bristol to provide a high-speed broadband network to the city to provide fibre services to businesses around the city.

In a joint venture dubbed BNET Ultra Ltd, ITS and Net Support UK will manage and maintain The Bristol Network, which is made up of around 76km of duct.
The ducts, which were used to deliver the community TV station Bristol Channel between 1973 and 1975, were bought by the city council 15 years ago with the aim of providing internet access to the council and schools. They have now been refurbished and used to connect key locations in the city centre to a fibre broadband network.

On top of the 76km of duct underneath the city, a further 60km of as-yet unused duct could yet be refurbished by the joint venture, extending the network to more than 180km.

Stephen Hilton, director of futures at Bristol City Council, said: “Bristol City Council had the foresight to buy the network of ducting from a cable TV operator more than 15 years ago.

“Now, after a programme of upgrades and maintenance, we have created a robust, symmetrical, high capacity network.”

“It is the duct element of this asset that has allowed for the 20-year concession agreement which will deliver in a number of areas.”

“The project will benefit people in Bristol by generating revenue which in turn will deliver better council services across the city, while the increased availability of high-speed broadband will benefit small and start-up businesses” he said.