Vodafone anchors CityFibre nationwide network for UK full-fibre leadership

Strategic partnership expanded to anchor nationwide roll-out of full-fibre gigabit broadband to up to eight million homes, with long-term volume commitments

Just after racking up the millionth home in its nationwide network roll-out and receiving more than £1.25bn in new investment, CityFibre has expanded its partnership with Vodafone to establish the UK operator as its anchor customer across the country, making long-term volume commitments across CityFibre’s entire eight million-home target roll-out as part of its £4bn investment programme.

CityFibre currently has 26 construction companies mobilised and in build across more than 60 towns and cities, and claims to be the current largest provider of full-fibre lines in over 25 locations. By the end of 2022, it plans to have builds under way across more than 150 cities, towns and villages before expanding to 285 by 2025.

The networks are based on PON technology, which means they can be upgraded to 10, 50, 100Gbps and beyond without any changes to the underlying gigabit network infrastructure. They serve all core market verticals, including consumer, business, public sector and mobile operators.

As well as endorsing the capability of the CityFibre infrastructure, the move, when fully realised, will make Vodafone the UK’s largest retail provider of full-fibre to consumers, bringing the service to eight million homes nationwide. It also marks Vodafone’s continued support for the expansion of full-fibre networks across the UK and its determination to encourage wholesale infrastructure competition at scale in the market.

The expansion builds on a strategic partnership agreed in November 2017 in which Vodafone committed to market ultrafast consumer broadband services across a one million-home CityFibre footprint in 12 cities. Since launch, the companies have worked together closely to develop the market and maximise take-up. This, they say, has resulted in Vodafone’s market-leading Gigafast services achieving twice the rate of take-up across CityFibre’s footprint compared to its market share in other parts of the country.

“We want to see a competitive market that brings the benefits of full-fibre to more people,” said Vodafone UK CEO Ahmed Essam. “We’ve had a very successful partnership with CityFibre since 2017, and we look forward to continuing working together to connect more of the UK to full-fibre. Through our partnership with wholesale providers, we are going to bring full-fibre to more homes than any other retail provider.”

The new CityFibre roll-out will deploy dense full-fibre infrastructure in 285 cities, towns and villages across the country by 2025. More than a million homes can already receive full-fibre broadband over its network.

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Anchored by the increased commitment from Vodafone, CityFibre is making a substantial investment into a new National Access network, connecting its growing footprint of local full-fibre networks. The new network will make it far easier, faster and more cost-effective for Vodafone and other wholesale partners to bring services to market across its nationwide footprint.

Using the new National Access network, Vodafone and other wholesale partners will ultimately be able to provide full-fibre services to any premises on CityFibre’s networks. Each new customer ordering a service from a partner will be offered an installation date within five working days of placing their order.

Ernest Doku, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, noted that through the deal, Vodafone was trying to raise the stakes in the battle to win broadband customers and the race to full-fibre.

“These plans will make it Britain’s biggest full-fibre provider, bringing the service to eight million homes across the country,” he said. “This won’t just improve choice for customers, but should also inject extra competition into the market. Partnerships like this also spur greater investment in Britain’s broadband infrastructure by challenger networks like CityFibre.

“Rather than laying its own cables, Vodafone, which is already the biggest broadband provider in Europe, takes advantage of the UK’s existing broadband infrastructure. By striking deals with both BT’s Openreach and doubling down on its existing relationship with the CityFibre network, its plan will make blisteringly fast full-fibre broadband available to more homes than ever.”

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