CityFibre

Cheltenham races as CityFibre extends gigabit fibre to more than 200 additional UK locations

Former UK altnet announces new build and extensions to existing projects that will see it supply full-fibre infrastructure to nearly a third of the UK market

In the latest of a surge of deployments across the UK which will now reach in excess of three million homes and represent more than £1.5bn in private investment, UK broadband provider CityFibre has maintained its recent breakneck pace of deployment by identifying 216 additional towns and villages for a full-fibre roll-out.

The past few weeks alone have seen a tranche of UK full-fibre roll-outs that have lit up networks in larger conurbations such as Brighton and Hove, Tyneside and the city of Newcastle, communities across the Thames Valley in Berkshire, Preston and Blackpool in Lancashire, Peterborough, and most recently, the spa town of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.

However, the new locations selected will see CityFibre, which claims to be the UK’s third-largest broadband provider, extend its networks to much smaller conurbations, completing the list of locations in its £4bn nationwide investment programme. This, said the company, makes it the largest independent investment in the UK’s digital infrastructure for a generation.

The background to the programme is the UK government’s desire to accelerate the delivery of gigabit-capable broadband across the country by 2025, a legislative journey that began in January 2020. The 2020 Budget statement confirmed the government’s commitment to investing a total of £5bn to roll out full-fibre broadband across the country.

In June 2020, CityFibre announced a three-year recruitment and training programme to provide up to 10,000 people with jobs, upgrading its digital infrastructure to be fit for purpose for the modern age. In the full-fibre roll-out, CityFibre is awarding construction contracts worth up to £1.5bn as a total bundle as it begins mobilisation across towns and cities.

The nationwide build programme is expected to be substantially completed by 2025, and will address approximately a third of the UK market, including up to eight million homes, 800,000 businesses, 400,000 public sector sites and 250,000 5G access points.

CityFibre recognised that the scale of roll-out has been made possible by the favourable regulatory environment established by UK communications regulator Ofcom to encourage infrastructure competition, making it quicker and easier to deploy full-fibre networks. CityFibre says that it’s expected that Ofcom’s imminent market review will support competition in the sector as the key to investment as industry accelerates to meet the government’s 2025 target.

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Going forward, CityFibre revealed it was also evaluating further opportunities to expand its nationwide roll-out ambitions. This, it said, could entail the extension of more of its existing build projects alongside possible participation in the BDUK programme, which is designed to extend connectivity across the UK.

The company’s network currently passes approximately 650,000 homes and it noted that it was seeing momentum from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) joining the network. To date, 14 are now signed, mobilising and selling and strategic partners Vodafone, TalkTalk and Zen are said to be already targeting the expanding footprint, and a growing number of regional and local ISPs are offering affordable, reliable and symmetrical gigabit-speed full-fibre broadband.

CityFibre said that each build location is seeing strong consumer interest and undertaking local marketing campaigns to accelerate the take-up of services from its ISPs. Those ISP partners offering services in the towns and cities identified for expansion will be able to easily extend their offerings to the new areas.

“Today’s announcement is excellent news for consumers and even better news for Britain,” said CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch. “We’re delighted to welcome so many new towns, villages and communities to our full-fibre roll-out programme.

“By 2025, our world-class digital infrastructure will be within reach of nearly a third of the UK market, connecting homes, businesses, schools and hospitals, and supporting 5G mobile networks. This is clear proof of the benefits of digital infrastructure competition. We have seen huge enthusiasm and early success from our ISP partners, both large and small.

“Together we’re maximising the potential of a new infrastructure build programme to stimulate demand and drive take-up,” said Mesch.

“Building the network is the first step. It’s only through the use of this world-class full-fibre infrastructure that we can derive the maximum benefit for our economic recovery and future success.”

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