Ian Georgeson

CityFibre appoints chief delivery officer

Alternative UK wholesale fibre provider appoints new network delivery chief to ensure roll-out of programme to bring gigabit broadband to the UK

CityFibre has appointed Richard Thorpe as chief delivery officer to help implement its plans to deliver full-fibre networks across the UK and accelerate its Gigabit City build programme.

The issue of fibre networks is the UK is a hot topic in the General Election campaign. Prime minister Boris Johnson has pledged to deliver full-fibre broadband to every home in the UK by 2025, while the Labour Party has stunned parts of the industry with its plan to part-nationalise BT, including Openreach, which is tasked with providing the UK’s national comms infrastructure.

CityFibre believes that only by collaborating as an industry – with the full support of the government and regulator Ofcom – will the UK be able to move to a future-proof full-fibre platform.

In October 2019, it announced an industry-wide consultation on the role of builders such as itself in developing the switchover from legacy copper networks, in an attempt to provide momentum in the development of a fibre infrastructure for the UK, and in the process establish itself as the country’s third national digital platform.

New recruit Thorpe will join CityFibre’s executive team and assume control of the company’s network delivery strategy and capabilities. He will be responsible for optimising the end-to-end network delivery process, as well as the design and implementation of a target operating model capable of supporting the Gigabit City build programme.

The £2.5bn Gigabit City build programme targets the roll-out of wholesale full-fibre infrastructure to more than five million homes and businesses in more than 60 towns and cities by 2025, representing about 20% of the UK market. In a just over a year since it began, CityFibre has already mobilised in 27 towns and cities, has network construction under way in 16 of those cities and towns, creating 1,600 construction jobs, and gigabit-speed services are already live in 10 cities.

Thorpe joins the firm from Digicel Group, where he was chief information officer, responsible for the IT strategy and transformation of the entire BSS estate for the Caribbean mobile and fixed-line operator. Before that, he led a variety of large-scale, full-fibre network roll-outs in roles including head of fibre deployment at Vodafone, and head of construction for NBN in Australia.

Read more about UK gigabit fibre

  • First phase of network expansion aims to give users download speeds of up to 900Mbps in 15 UK towns and cities.
  • Fibre-to-the-home provider Community Fibre has teamed with cloud and IT services provider Glemnet to bring unprecedented gigabit speed broadband to customers in south London.
  • Broadband infrastructure provider will deploy high-capacity fibre system between Stratford in London and Eurotunnel in Folkestone.
  • Report from economist Oxera predicts that many social and economic benefits will result from the widespread roll-out of gigabit broadband, as increased connectivity changes the way people interact with each other.

He said: “I’m delighted to join what I consider to be one of the most exciting digital infrastructure projects under way worldwide. I’m determined to accelerate our build programmes while retaining the high quality necessary to be a trusted national network. The progress CityFibre has made to date is impressive, but I am confident we can inject still more rocket fuel into our build engine.”

CityFibre chief executive officer Greg Mesch added: “As the UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform, CityFibre’s build programme could not be more critical. We have made huge progress in our roll-out so far, but as we continue to accelerate, we have decided to create the new role of chief delivery officer to ensure we stay on plan. We are delighted to welcome Richard to that role. He brings huge experience of delivering large-scale network roll-outs and will help drive the pace and maintain the quality as we grow.”

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