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IHS Claim Cityfibre FTTP to Cover 20 Percent of UK Homes by 2020

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 (4:59 pm) - Score 1,064

A new report from IHS has said that Cityfibre’s Gigabit fibre optic (FTTP) broadband network will increase its coverage area from “15% of all UK households to 20%” by 2020, which will help to boost NGA Internet connections to 15.5 million. But the figures do require some clarification.

The full report doesn’t seem to be available to the public, at least we couldn’t find a downloadable copy of it and as such we can only go off the bits of very general information in their summary. However some of the claims, without the proper context, could easily confuse.

One of the reasons for that flows from its focus on Cityfibre’s on-going deployment of ultrafast fibre optic broadband and Ethernet services, which will be deployed in as many as 50 UK cities by 2020 (e.g. York, Peterborough, Coventry, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow). In particular there’s a big focus on network coverage and talk of providing “direct competition with BTInfinity.”

Fiona Vanier, Senior Analyst at IHS Technology, said:

“This means that internet service providers looking to move into certain towns or cities may have the option of choosing CityFibre as a wholesaler instead of BT. Key players in the UK broadband market, such as Sky and TalkTalk, already recognize CityFibre as a viable alternative to BT Openreach, and a number of significant agreements have been signed with CityFibre over the last 12 to 18 months.”

All good so far. The report then states that “by 2020, CityFibre is planning to increase its coverage area from 15 percent of all UK households to 20 percent,” but this is not entirely accurate and appears to be talking about the hypothetical addressable market reach rather than actual “premises passed” (imagine using a similar definition alongside BT’s fibre network).

In practical terms the number of UK homes that can pick-up the phone today and order a consumer affordable FTTP service over Cityfibre’s network is much smaller, with more than 20,000 premises passed in Bournemouth (Gigler) and around 5,000 in York via Sky Broadband and TalkTalk’s UFO solution (rising to 20,000 eventually).

The rest of their network is primarily focused on connecting public sector sites and businesses, but it does not physically run past the driveways of 15% of UK homes.. at least not yet (see here for another reflection of today’s FTTP/H coverage). In order to achieve true 15% coverage Cityfibre would need to have delivered a lot more Joint Ventures like the one in York, with significant street level deployments being built much closer to homes.

Mind you the potential is certainly there and Cityfibre have done an impressive job of getting the core network in place, but you still have to do a lot of painfully slow and expensive civil works to expand out from that in order to reach individual homes. The service then also needs to be made available for homes to order, otherwise giving a coverage figure is a touch fruitless.

However there’s no doubt that alternative network providers (IHS also mention Gigaclear, B4RN etc.) are playing a much bigger role today and that will only grow over the next few years, which is good and provides useful competition for the big boys.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Ignition says:

    So we’re talking them having metro rings in enough cities that if someone else builds out the access networks they’ll pass 20% of premises.

    FTTPR.

  2. New_Londoner says:

    @MarkJ
    “will be deployed in as many as 50 UK cities by 2020”

    To be honest, given how long its taken to cover a few business parks in Peterborough (not the whole city, just some business parks), I think they will really struggle to cover 50 cities by 2020. And as you say, there is a world of difference in providing a metro ring as opposed to actually building a city-wide network anyway.

    So, apart from not building metro rings that cover whole cities, and not building local networks to cover the premises within those cities, and taking ages to build partial metro rings, the claims in the IHS Technology report all hold water! 😉

    As Ignition concludes, this is FTTPR

  3. wirelesspacman says:

    “from 15% of all UK households to 20% by 2020”

    Well, of course, it they have ALREADY achieved 15%, then 20% by 2020 will be chicken feed!

    Cough! 🙂

  4. Interesting that in my LinkedIn feed I saw this piece alongside a post from Ranulf Scarborough about BT installing an FTTH connection in Cornwall – big news indeed. @INCA_networks ran a seminar in York where TalkTalk were very keen to praise the CityFibre network. @MarkJ is right to say that the ‘altnets’ are gaining traction. In a survey we did for BDUK last year they anticipate reaching 40% of UK premises by 2020.

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