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Ultrafast York UFO broadband network to go citywide

Following successful trials in a number of York neighbourhoods, UFO broadband backers CityFibre, Sky and TalkTalk have agreed to roll out the service across the city

Broadband suppliers CityFibre, Sky and TalkTalk will roll out their gigabit fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband network across the city of York following a successful trial in a number of neighbourhoods.

The Ultra Fibre Optic (UFO) network was set up as a joint venture in 2015 to test the viability of large-scale FTTP roll-outs in urban areas. To date, it has passed 14,000 properties around York, with more than 2,400 customers signing up to the service.

The joint venture partners said that, so far, build costs had come in under budget, while customer take-up and satisfaction were running ahead of target, backing up the experience of other ultrafast providers such as Gigaclear, which has shown take-up of FTTP services considerably ahead of fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC).

Because of this early success, work will begin next spring to expand the programme to cover 40,000 more premises over 18 months. This will encompass most homes and businesses in York.

At the same time, Sky will exit the venture, with its equity to be acquired by TalkTalk in the near future and Sky becoming a wholesale customer. CityFibre will remain on board as a shareholder.

“We are very pleased with the success of UFO in York so far,” said TalkTalk’s general manager of ultrafast, Richard Sinclair. “Our customers are amazed at what they can do with their ultrafast connections – streaming HD TV without buffering, playing games in real time with people on the other side of the world, or simply enabling every member of the family to be online at the same time. We are very excited to be extending our roll-out.”

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City of York council leader David Carr added: “This investment will transform York’s digital landscape. As the first gigabit city in the country to benefit from having access to city-wide gigabit broadband, this provides significant new opportunities and support for thousands of businesses based here and a better quality and value to our residents.

“It is not only helping to create new jobs and attract investment, but is making York an enviable business destination.”

Digital and culture secretary Matt Hancock, who last week used his keynote speech at Broadband World Forum to call for the market to take the lead on delivering FTTP broadband services, said the expansion was exactly what the government would like to see happening.

“We are working to support full fibre roll-out by removing barriers and putting the right incentives in place to help cement our role as a digital leader and get the very best broadband to families and business,” said Hancock.

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