Ian Georgeson

CityFibre completes FibreNation acquisition

Official go-ahead for buyout which takes former altnet into mainstream status as the UK’s third largest national digital infrastructure and fibre operator

The shareholders of UK internet service provider (ISP) TalkTalk Group have given formal approval for UK fibre broadband network provider CityFibre to acquire infrastructure and services firm FibreNation.

Founded in 2018 through a joint venture between TalkTalk, Sky and CityFibre, FibreNation was launched to deploy full-fibre broadband across the region of York in the north of England. It offers gigabit-speed broadband services from TalkTalk to approximately 49,000 premises.

CityFibre has spent six months or so accelerating its network reach, enabling the expansion of its Gigabit City Investment Programme across more than 100 towns and cities. In October 2019, the company revealed that it was undertaking an industry-wide consultation process regarding 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.

In November 2019, it appointed a chief delivery officer to help implement the plans to deliver full-fibre networks across the UK and accelerate its Gigabit City build programme, initiated in 2017 to enable its ISP partner Vodafone to launch residential fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) services.

The acquisition of FibreNation, first announced in January 2020, establishes CityFibre as the UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform and enables CityFibre to increase its roll-out ambition from five million to up to eight million premises, supporting an investment programme of up to £4bn.

The FibreNation brand will remain in the market and the company will continue to operate and expand its networks where nearly 60,000 premises can gain access to gigabit-speed broadband services from TalkTalk. The completion also triggers TalkTalk’s onboarding as CityFibre’s latest major customer, making long-term commitments to both residential and business customers. TalkTalk Group will now begin a process of systems integration as part of long-term commitments across CityFibre’s existing and future network roll-out.

“In the face of the rapid spread of the coronavirus and its unprecedented impact on the UK’s society and economy, we believe that the need for world-class digital infrastructure has never been greater”
Greg Mesch, CityFibre

Commenting on completing the deal, CityFibre chief executive Greg Mesch said: “In the face of the rapid spread of the coronavirus and its unprecedented impact on the UK’s society and economy, we believe that the need for world-class digital infrastructure has never been greater.

“Completing our acquisition of FibreNation marks an acceleration in our ability to deploy the critical future-proof digital infrastructure our country needs. By significantly expanding our roll-out ambition to up to eight million premises, CityFibre is helping to answer the call for a full-fibre Britain.”

Tristia Harrison, chief executive of TalkTalk, added: “Now more than ever, reliable and affordable connectivity should be available to every single home in Britain, and this agreement shows that a full-fibre future can be delivered through competition and investment by many players.

“CityFibre’s ambitions to take forward our hard work with FibreNation over the last five years should take us a step closer to that fully connected Britain. The sale of FibreNation to CityFibre, in combination with a competitive wholesale agreement, enables us to continue our strategy to accelerate TalkTalk’s fibre growth for our residential and business customers, thereby delivering a superior customer experience at an affordable price.”

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