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Residents of Milton Keynes will be at the head of the queue to receive the first consumer fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband services offered over CityFibre’s extensive network via a partnership with internet service provider (ISP) and mobile operator Vodafone.
Fibre network builder CityFibre, which serves businesses and public sector organisations in so-called “Gigabit Cities” across the UK, has never addressed residential broadband customers before, but had previously hinted that it might try to.
In the autumn of 2017, it signed a deal giving Vodafone exclusive rights to run ultrafast consumer broadband over its network.
As part of the roll-out, CityFibre is to invest an additional £40m of its own cash pile into upgrading its existing 160km network in Milton Keynes – starting in March 2018 – to give virtually every residential property in the area access to gigabit broadband. Services will go live towards the end of the year, with locals invited to register their interest online.
“We are delighted that Milton Keynes has been selected as the first city in this full-fibre roll-out,” said Milton Keynes Council leader Peter Marland.
“As a modern city that prides itself on its smart city ambitions and projects, it is perfectly positioned to make the most of this major private investment in its digital infrastructure.”
CityFibre and Vodafone said the council’s forward-looking commitment to connectivity and smart city initiatives had played a major role in their choice of Milton Keynes to launch the new service.
The local MK:Smart smart city project, which is backed by the council, BT and the Open University, has been up and running since 2014. It has been widely recognised as one of the UK’s leading smart city demonstrators for its work using the internet of things (IoT) to improve local services, such as parking and rubbish collection.
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The absence of any competing FTTP infrastructure in the town also helped the partners come to a decision, said CityFibre.
“Milton Keynes is fast becoming a UK leader for productivity and growth, with its economic prospects only likely to improve following the opening of the East West Rail project,” said Nick Jeffery, UK chief executive at Vodafone.
“We believe that residents deserve a digital communications service to match their ambitions. This is why we are providing gigabit-capable connections to transform the way we live and work.”
CityFibre CEO Greg Masch added: “The partnership between Vodafone and CityFibre aims to tackle the huge problem the UK faces in terms of digital inadequacy and will help fulfil our vision of a Gigabit Britain.
“We are at the early stages of creating the gigabit fibre network that the UK needs and deserves, and with the announcement of Milton Keynes as our first project we are well on our way to making this vision a reality. Full speed ahead.”