CityFibre makes £30m full-fibre investment in Preston

Rapidly growing former altnet gets to work on its aim to ‘future-proof’ digital foundations of north-west city with expanded fibre infrastructure

Work to bring full-fibre connectivity within reach of almost every home and business in Preston has been initiated by CityFibre, which has broken ground on a new infrastructure roll-out designed to address the north-west of England city’s digital needs.

Construction of the £30m city-wide full-fibre network has begun in the Frenchwood and Fishwick areas and is being delivered by Telent on behalf of CityFibre, which is now the UK’s largest independent full-fibre platform.

The company said its construction team will use a range of construction methods while working in close partnership with Preston City Council and local communities to deliver a fast roll-out while minimising potential disruption. Each area usually takes a few weeks to complete, but construction teams will typically be outside each home for only two or three days and CityFibre will be in touch by mail ahead of any work starting.

The overall project is expected to reach completion by 2024, but the first services will go live much sooner. As the network is completed in each neighbourhood, internet service providers (ISPs) will light them up. In the first instance, CityFibre is already working with launch partner Vodafone to supply full-fibre infrastructure for customers on selected Vodafone Pro Broadband plans, while TalkTalk and other providers are expected to join the network in due course.

“I am immensely excited and proud to see work getting under way in Preston,” said Steve Thorpe, CityFibre’s city manager for Preston. “This is the start of an exciting new chapter for the city as it gets ready to thrive in the digital age. It is important to remember that any short-term disruption will pay off tremendously in the long term – once the network is built, it will serve the community’s connectivity needs for decades to come.”

Peter Moss, deputy leader and cabinet member for planning and regulation at Preston City Council, added: “The past year has demonstrated the importance of fast and reliable internet for residents and businesses. Central to this is an effective and future-proof network infrastructure. We are pleased to be working with CityFibre as they deliver this £30m infrastructure project in Preston.”

The new roll-out is part of CityFibre’s aim to bring full-fibre connectivity within reach of up to eight million homes in towns and cities across the UK as part of its up to £4bn Gigabit City Investment Programme. The company’s previous deployment saw it roll out fibre networks to a new area of Ipswich. Work on that £30m project began in early 2020.

The latest move also comes just after research from UK telecoms regulator Ofcom found that the UK’s gigabit industry had defied pandemic restrictions to continue aggressive infrastructure deployment, resulting in more than one-third of UK homes having gigabit-capable broadband by the end of January 2021.

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