COLCHESTER’S economy could be in line for a £180 million boost as work begins to upgrade the fibre broadband across the town centre.

Colchester Council’s cabinet is set to push forward with its proposals for the Colchester Local Full Fibre Network Fund, the first part of which will see existing CCTV cameras converted into multi-purpose distribution nodes providing ultrafast broadband, digital CCTV, radio deployments and 5G transmitters.

Funding of £3.45 million has been secured by Colchester Amphora Trading from the Department for Culture, Media, Sport and Digital as part of the Government’s Local Full Fibre Network Fund.

A “comprehensive market and local economy study” found the project could boost the town’s economy by £180 million, or six per cent, once complete.

A report set to go before the cabinet on Wednesday said: “The critical outcomes of this part of works will be making the connection of new customers far quicker, cheaper and easier than is currently the case; and providing the primary infrastructure for the separate, future modernisation of the CCTV system.”

Part two of the project will see network infrastructure built at the council’s Northern Gateway development where every new home will come with gigabit internet connectivity.

A “metronet”, or a large network of ducts and street chambers, is also set to be built linking Northern Gateway and the town centre, helping to provide fast internet speeds to areas like Greenstead and the Hythe.

Colchester Borough Homes’ sheltered housing developments will also be able to secure ultrafast internet at zero capital cost as a result of the project.

Existing broadband provision in Colchester is ranked as poor, and the town came 57th when the 65 biggest towns and cities in the UK were ranked in terms of connectivity.

The report states: “Fewer than one per cent of connections in Colchester are pure-fibre capable of delivering gigabit speeds; this compares with 8 per cent across the UK.”

The project, which should be complete by March 2021, will have to be forward funded by the council before the money is claimed back.