Allan McEwan, CityFibre’s City Manager for Aberdeen, explains more about CityFibre’s vital work delivering full fibre to the city this year.
“In a year of social distance, we have in some ways been more connected than ever before. Whether it was video calls while working from home or family quizzes over Zoom, technology has supported people across Aberdeen at a time when connections have never been more valued.
Of course, we all recognise the importance of technology and the need for faster, more reliable digital connectivity. CityFibre has proudly been leading the transformation of the digital infrastructure which powers our society. It has been quite the journey since early 2018, when we announced Aberdeen as the first city in Scotland to form part of our Gigabit City investment programme.
Since then, we have worked tirelessly to extend the city’s full fibre network, which will future proof Aberdeen’s digital ambitions, supporting businesses and households alike.
After a brief hiatus at the outset of the COVID pandemic, we got back to work – closely following guidelines set out by Public Health Scotland to ensure the safety of our workers and of those living in the communities in which we operate. As the third national digital infrastructure platform, we understand the responsibility we have to continue the roll out of full fibre and it is not something we take lightly.
Our £40m project in the Granite City has continued apace since restarting. In recent months, our build team, led by contractor GCU, began work in several new areas of the city. This included Craigiebuckler, Summerhill, Woodend, Hazlehead, Seafield, and Seaton and we will add to that as we enter 2021.
In addition to entering new areas, we were also pleased to make significant progress in other parts of the city, with construction now complete in parts of Bridge of Don, Airyhall, Albyn, Cove, and Heathryfold.
Indeed, thousands of residents in Aberdeen are already benefiting from full fibre, with our launch ISP partner Vodafone making connections available through Vodafone Gigafast Broadband, delivering download and upload speeds of up to 900Mbps. Services are now live for residents in many parts of the city, including Woodside, Garthdee, Ruthrieston, Mannofield, Kincorth, Broomhill, Kaimhill, Ferryhill, Northfield, Rosehill, Hilton, and Torry, with more to follow shortly.
The benefits will be felt right across the city. According to research from economic consultancy Regeneris, over a 15-year period access to full fibre could add up to £67m to the value of local homes, while Smart City initiatives could add as much as £109m locally. It could also unlock £99m in business productivity and innovation – particularly important in the wake of the pandemic – while a further £50m in growth could be driven from new business start-ups, with enhanced connectivity making it easier and less expensive to set up base and run efficiently.
Beyond the work we are doing to connect Aberdeen’s communities, I have been particularly proud this year of the support we have given to local organisations. One fantastic example is Silver City Surfers, a local charity which supports over 55s navigate their way around technology.
That, of course, is something that took on much greater importance due to the pandemic, and Silver City Surfers has done stellar work to ensure digital inclusiveness. We worked with the organisation to deliver a series of digital training sessions to residents living in sheltered housing – helping them stay connected to family and friends.
We have also chosen to support CLAN, the leading cancer support charity. Their ‘Light the North’ trail – a tremendous initiative – aims to place 50 lighthouses at specific locations across the North East and Northern Isles. Designed by artists, both local and from further afield, the 2.5m tall sculptures will be a beacon of hope and positivity. Not only will the Light the North trail support vital cancer support services across the region, it also gives a platform for hugely talented artists at a time when they have faced real difficulties. We were thrilled to come on board as a sponsor and I cannot wait until the trail opens to the public in March. While it was unfortunately delayed, it will be well worth the wait.
When reflecting on 2020, it is undeniable that this has been an incredibly tough year. But through the darkness, there have been real rays of light. In 2021, let’s build on the connections we have made.”
Find out more about the work of CityFibre in Aberdeen here.