Three expands full-fibre connectivity partnership with CityFibre

The UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform provider teams up with telco on backhaul project

As it digs deeper, literally, in providing gigabit broadband across the UK, and as full-fibre backhaul becomes an essential part of delivering a great mobile experience, the UK’s self-described third national digital infrastructure platform, CityFibre, has been awarded a multimillion-pound contract by operator Three to connect an additional 1,300 of its key mobile communications masts across 59 towns and cities.

The contract with CityFibre is part of Three’s strategy to deliver what it claims will be the UK’s fastest 5G network thanks to its 5G spectrum portfolio. Three UK launched its 5G network in Central London In August 2019, and has commenced rolling out 5G across the rest of the UK. The network technology uses 100MHz of contiguous 3.4-3.8GHz 5G spectrum in combination with what it claims is the world’s first fully virtualised cloud core network with Nokia.

To support the national roll-out, in February 2020, Three appointed CityFibre as a preferred provider of backhaul connectivity outside London for Three, and the long-term framework deal enables Three to use CityFibre’s growing national full-fibre network to support its roll-out of 5G services.

The deepening partnership sees Three and CityFibre further align on their roll-out plans and will more than triple Three’s initial commitment. It is intended to help to increase the speed and efficiency of each deployment, providing a high-quality 5G service across CityFibre’s Gigabit City projects and delivering an improved network experience for Three’s customers.

The partnership will also mean Three has access to small cell access points throughout each of CityFibre’s dense city-wide networks. This will ensure it has the local full-fibre capacity in place to support the expected heavy demand of 5G services in busy urban areas, meaning a seamless service for customers. Most of the locations identified for Three’s 5G roll-out are well progressed and CityFibre say that it is ramping up delivery ahead of the end of 2020.

“We are increasing investment across our network to meet the ever-increasing demand for data by UK consumers,” said Susan Buttsworth, COO at Three UK. “Fibre backhaul is a vital part of a reliable network experience and this investment will mean better connectivity for our customers across the UK.”

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CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch added: “We are excited to deepen our support for Three’s ambitious 5G roll-out. It’s clear that the alignment of two national consumer and mobile digital infrastructure roll-outs has huge benefits, not just for us, but for the cities and communities we are connecting.

“Working together, we can deploy 5G and full-fibre further and more efficiently, creating a word-class digital infrastructure that allows agile and distributed applications for millions.”

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