Telecoms firm to become UK player with network push

Edinburgh firm expanding after netting its largest investment since starting out in 1994.

Chief executive Ricky Nicol said the expansion takes Commsworld 'from a predominantly Scottish-centric provider to a UK provider'. Picture: Ian Georgeson.

An Edinburgh-based telecoms group has secured its largest ever investment, inking deals with two infrastructure builders to operate the biggest privately owned fibre network of its kind in the UK.

Commsworld, which also has offices in Glasgow and Aberdeen and more than 100 staff, has pushed the button on plans to build its own national optical core network that will be able to reach “effectively unlimited” speeds, and backed by exclusive access to long-distance fibre networks from CityFibre and Zayo.

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It also said the expansion takes it from mainly Scottish-centric to UK provider.

The business will almost triple the size of its existing dark fibre estate – to 2,000 kilometres from 750km – connecting to more than 20 of the UK’s major cities, including Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and London.

As well as significantly upgrading Commsworld’s existing core capacity, the new network will enable it to offer more than 250,000 businesses top connection speeds, and deliver “transformative” public sector network services after netting major council contracts in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Borders, for example.

The 12-year and ten-year contracts with CityFibre and Zayo respectively let Commsworld to offer its low-latency network connectivity and cloud services across the the UK.

Ricky Nicol, chief executive of Commsworld, said: “I can’t overstate how exciting this step forward is for us. This network expansion takes us from a predominantly Scottish-centric provider to a UK provider, another milestone for us in the long-term strategy to take the business to that UK level.

“Previously, outside of Scotland, we’ve used fibre networks owned and managed by others, but this development means we have full control – and the bandwidth available is only determined by the equipment we use on the end of the fibre. While we’ve been able to comfortably provide fast speeds and a high level of service, this expansion of our network opens up so many more possibilities to us to transform the amount of business we will do south of the Border.”

The Dense Wave Division Multiplexing network Commsworld will build to light the fibre will be capable of four terabits per second on day one, but is “effectively unlimited” as faster optical transmission equipment becomes available.

In addition to the new 2,058-kilometre national figure-of-eight ring Commsworld will control across the UK, it will be bringing ten of CityFibre’s gigabit cities fully on-net.

This means a further 830 kilometres of CityFibre’s metro networks will be accessible over the new infrastructure – allowing it to deliver a cost-effective service to cities including Sheffield, Bristol, Leeds and Milton Keynes.

CityFibre said it first worked in partnership with Commsworld to anchor its 150km network in Edinburgh and is “proud to support the next exciting phase of their growth”. The contract with Zayo includes the option to use its subsea links to the US and mainland Europe.