Last month, we took a closer look at the heat networks that will be delivering low-carbon, cost-effective energy across the Enterprise Zone. The majority of ducts and trenches used for these networks (such as those on the underside of the Arena Island Bridge) will also carry the ducts and cables required for another key Enterprise Zone project: superfast broadband.

As more companies move into the Enterprise Zone, especially those from the digital and hi-tech sectors, the availability of good broadband is absolutely crucial. In light of this, we decided to take a closer look at what’s currently on offer and what’s underway.

How does the infrastructure for heat networks support superfast broadband?

The infrastructure for heat networks is a network of underground pipes. While these pipes are being installed, broadband ducts will also be installed in the ground at the same time and within the same trench (where possible). Fibre-optic wires can then be pulled through the installed ducts when required.


Trenches for broadband installation

Broadband ducts being installed

What’s so good about fibre broadband?

It has higher speeds than other kinds of broadband: it uses glass cables instead of the standard copper wires which are used in regular broadband connections, which allows for faster data transfer.

What kind of speeds can businesses on the network expect?

Around 1GB.

How will businesses along the network be able to take advantage of this?

Further information about this will be available soon.

Is anything else on offer for businesses looking to enhance their broadband?

In December 2013, Bristol secured up to £11.3 million from the Government’s Urban Broadband Fund to ensure that a world-class digital infrastructure was in place to benefit businesses across the city. Part of this funding went towards a pre-commercial ultrafast broadband of at least 80Mbps across a large, centrally-located area comprising Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, the Harbourside and the University. This ultra-fast broadband project forms the basis of Bristol Is Open.

What is ‘Bristol is Open’?

A collaboration between Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol that will create an experimental high-speed network where technology companies, research organisations and small and medium-sized enterprises can develop and experiment with the next generation of network technology. This network will stimulate and study how telecommunication, software, hardware, data and sensing technology come together in a medium sized European city.

How can businesses get involved with the project?

To find out further information about Bristol Is Open, including how to join the project, please visit

What other broadband innovations are going on in the Zone?

Bristol Is Open derived from Bristol’s Super Connected Cities programme. Other initiatives under this programme include a broadband voucher scheme to provide internet upgrades for businesses (now closed); technology demonstrators of the latest technology (such as such as High Definition Video Conferencing and video walls) at Engine Shed; improvements to street furniture and other technology projects designed to stimulate business take-up of superfast broadband.