Website: www.culham.org.uk/

Background

Providing attractive Broadband services in Science Parks has become increasingly problematic as tenant’s expectations and requirements have risen beyond the capability of the infrastructure. In the past, most property managers have left the tenant to sort out their requirements direct with BT or another service provider.

With the upgrade of much of the BT network to SuperFast speeds it might be imagined that this problem would ease. In fact, many Science Parks are in remote locations and the upgrades to fibre enable BT cabinets has little impact as the distance to the user is too high. In some cases, Parks have their own copper distribution frames which can’t be upgraded.

The option to take a direct fibre service is no less difficult for the individual tenant. Fibre services often attract high installation fees and long contracts and getting the capacity at a reasonable cost is difficult for an individual user. Having the Park aggregate this capacity makes sense from a commercial point of view, reduces the amount of street works and dilapidations on site and improves both the quality and the value of the offer to the tenant. However, most Parks don’t have the technical expertise to build and operate a complex multi-tenanted service which is where Bridge Fibre comes into its own.

With 30 Science Park clients across the UK, Bridge Fibre can cope with almost any combination of requirements and circumstances and works in partnership with its landlords to ensure that commercial yield is improved and the offer to the tenant becomes a marketing asset rather than a liability.

Culham Science Centre

Culham Science Centre is a complex and sophisticated site, split between the Fusion Energy development programmes and commercial tenancy

While a significant portion of the site has been converted to commercial occupancy, plans exist for further renovation, conversion and new build works, which bring new opportunities to improve the broadband connectivity.

Originally tenants organised their own Broadband connectivity, and as the site is relatively distant from the BT infrastructure speeds available through the standard Broadband offering were poor.

The UKAEA itself benefits from two high-speed JANET connections. The ability to make use of the existing JANET connections onsite has three main implications:

  • It reduces the cost of setting the network up in the first place, and significantly reduces the ongoing delivery cost
  • It makes speeds and services available to commercial tenants at Culham from the start that would not normally be commercially feasible in the short term
  • This future proofs the network for Culham

In addition, the site benefits from an unusual high capacity underground and high level duct system which means that there are existing duct routes between all commercial buildings, which, in turn, means an alternative service delivery approach could be achieved at relatively low cost. This created a unique combination of circumstances where Culham could transform its service offering to being at the very leading edge of service provision, and at modest cost.


Dr. Caroline Livingstone. Head of Property UKAEA:

 

“The Culham Science Centre is home to the UKAEA which is the UK centre for research into Fusion Energy.  The UKAEA has therefore enjoyed high capacity connections to JANET for many years.  However, the broadband available to commercial tenants at Culham has historically been limited by either the low capacity of the available BT infrastructure or by the high cost of fibre installation.  Over the last 18 months JISC and the UKAEA have been exploring how the existing connection can be used to enable our commercial tenants to access a high capacity fibre service.  In turn, JISC have then worked with Bridge Fibre to manage service delivery directly to the tenants.

Connecting the two sides of the site together was not without its challenges and we had to protect and secure the UKAEA requirements whilst ensuring the needs of the commercial tenants can be met without creating a lot of work and overhead for the existing Park management. Culham is a large and physically complex site but the onsite teams, JISC and Bridge worked together to ensure that this was achievable on a commercial basis that was beneficial to all parties.   The Bridge Fibre involvement has been crucial.

Tenants who were frustrated with the Broadband situation have been delighted at the new range of services that they can now access and this enables us to market the site more effectively to potential new tenants. Broadband has gone from being a limitation to one of our major assets”

What the tenants say:

“The new broadband connection has made a significant difference to our working practices and we have been very happy with the service provided by Bridge Fibre.  The contractual arrangements, initial installation and set-up was quick, efficient and with no apparent interruption to our business.  We would have no hesitation in recommending Bridge Fibre to prospective customers.

CROFT Ltd.

Leaders in packaging for the safe transport, storage and disposal of radioactive materials.

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