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Cityfibre UK Joins European Alliance to Boost Full Fibre Broadband

Friday, July 20th, 2018 (5:25 pm) - Score 2,406
cityfibre peterborough council fttp deployment

Fibre optic UK network builder Cityfibre has today announced that they’ve joined Deutsche Glasfaser, Open Fiber, Reykjavikur and SIRO as signatories of a new alliance, which aims to promote a wholesale-only build model and end the misuse of “fibre” terminology in consumer broadband ISP advertising.

Cityfibre has built or manages around 50 Dark Fibre style networks across the UK, which exist mostly in urban areas and are usually designed to cater for public sector sites and businesses. On top of that they’re currently also working with ISPs like Vodafone and TalkTalk in order to build out several large 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) networks for residential consumers.

Senior leaders from similar operators in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Iceland, as well as chief representatives from the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the FTTH Council Europe, met in Rome this week to discuss the future of the telecoms market and the barriers to deployment and uptake of the next-generation infrastructure. Apparently the result was today’s alliance.

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:

“Wholesale only has been at the heart of CityFibre’s strategy from day one. We are leading the rollout of full fibre infrastructure across the UK, deploying modern digital infrastructure to millions of homes and businesses, empowering all service providers, mobile operators and digital innovators.

It is the new generation of fibre infrastructure operators that are building FTTH faster, quicker and cheaper than incumbent legacy operators, and CityFibre welcomes collaboration with our alliance partners across Europe.”

The alliance aims to follow the new European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) and will position wholesale-only as the ideal roll-out model of very high capacity networks “due to their natural ability to offer access to multiple telecom service providers without bias, discrimination or abuses“.

By the sounds of it this will be a sort of lobby group that aims to educate governments, regulators and financial investors in the benefits of deploying “full fibre” connectivity, as well as promoting awareness of independent fibre networks to ISPs and mobile operators. As part of that they will also jointly work to try and prevent slower hybrid or party fibre (e.g. FTTC) providers from “misusing” fibre terminology in their adverts (example).

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Mark Jackson
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.
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21 Responses
  1. Avatar Meadmodj

    “due to their natural ability to offer access to multiple telecom service providers without bias, discrimination or abuses“
    This sounds like the definition of Openreach so they are saying is there should be competition in the wholesale market or that they should be granted geographical monopolies?. If this is their shared “vision” are they going to keep to defined exclusive deals with the likes of TalkTalk and Vodafone or announce open wholesale products. They are doing the former but extolling the latter so they need to make their mind up. If they want to deliver the above statement then they must accept a level playing field with OR and publish wholesale products accessible by all leading ISPs from AAISP to Zen.
    Ofcom are probably keeping their powder dry on this issue regarding VM and KCOM, but sounds like they need to include Cityfibre (including JVs) in their sights for regulatory wholesale.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      Comment related to FTTP networks

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      NO idea what you are talking about Cityfibre acquired Entanet in 2017 and have been wholesaling via them since.

      ASK4 is also a seller of Cityfibre products as well as Exa Networks and many others.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      My point is that we do not want FTTP monopolies to develop and if they aspire to the EECC code then any ISP should be able to utilise their network.

    • Avatar Carl T

      There is no prospect of CityFibre having significant market power any time soon. Ofcom have no grounds to force them to wholesale and, frankly, I can think of few things that would disincentivise deployments more.

      We are years behind Spain and Portugal, countries Ofcom point to as examples of where we should be, due to Ofcom’s fixation with forcing wholesale. If it means getting the networks in the ground faster a few years of exclusivity is reasonable.

    • Avatar Clifford

      “My point is that we do not want FTTP monopolies to develop and if they aspire to the EECC code then any ISP should be able to utilise their network.”

      What makes you think others can not use Cityfibres network? From what i can tell they wholesale in pretty much the same manor BT do.

      Why you would think Ofcom need to intervene. Not only are they a relatively small provider with no SMP as Carl points out but they have decided to wholesale without regulator intervention.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      My comment was related Broadband FTTP not backhaul where there is now good competition. However I can see a situation developing over the next few years where depending where you live (even in the same city/town) you may be dependant on a particular FTTP provider and may not have alternative or competition. If its OR then the assumption is that there will be consistent wholesale products available and you could select your service via your chosen ISP. However if not OR then you will be dependant only on the ISPs that have an agreement with that provider.
      Cityfibre’s recent announcements are tied to specific ISPs which appears to conflict with some of their press statements.
      Yes they do not have an SMP nationally but it may not be long before they may have created SMP in certain geographical areas (them directly or via ISP agreement).

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      “My comment was related Broadband FTTP not backhaul where there is now good competition. However I can see a situation developing over the next few years where depending where you live (even in the same city/town) you may be dependant on a particular FTTP provider and may not have alternative or competition. If its OR then the assumption is that there will be consistent wholesale products available and you could select your service via your chosen ISP.”

      Irrelevant for so many reasons. No provider can force others to sell their product. All they can do is offer a wholesale solution, which both Cityfibre as i have already pointed out to you and BT already do. Ofcom involvement is not required if both already wholesale.

      Some ISPs may choose not to sell Openreach FTTP, just as many have currently decided to no t sell G.Fast. Besides if BT actually achieve their “aims” of 20 Million premises for G.Fast/FTTP, then i doubt those who are left will care much who the solution comes from as long as they have one.

      Finally saying Ofcom should interfere with the market now when nobody knows what the future will hold is a bit daft. They have plenty of other better things to do for the right now IMO.

      “Cityfibre’s recent announcements are tied to specific ISPs which appears to conflict with some of their press statements.”

      NOPE anyone can resell their products if they so wish there is even a method on their website to contact them about doing so. Again you can not force others to buy and sell something.

      “Yes they do not have an SMP nationally but it may not be long before they may have created SMP in certain geographical areas (them directly or via ISP agreement).”

      You can not have SMP in a specific region/area. The rules are their to govern the industry in a fair manner for the country not just bits of it you deem fit.

      Using your logic if i live in a village of 250 people and come up with a broadband solution for them as nobody else has bothered you are saying i should have to wholesale my product as i have SMP in that village. Which to be frank is utterly ridiculous and defies all reason, logic and common sense.

      What are you gonna do next? Demand bob down the road who shares his wifi with 10 people in the street has to wholesale it to others? At what number level are you gonna draw the line as to when someone should wholesale for this nonsense SMP in a certain area?

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      So we are not going to have situation for FTTP where large numbers of people are locked into either VM, TalkTalk or Vodafone then. We will see in 2/3 years time.

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      You have not even defined what “large numbers” of people is.

    • Avatar Carl T

      ‘So we are not going to have situation for FTTP where large numbers of people are locked into either VM, TalkTalk or Vodafone then.’

      Who cares if we do? If these companies are financing network builds why shouldn’t they get to keep them to themselves for at least a period?

      Nothing forcing people to take FTTP, nothing other than business case stopping others from investing.

      We have been okay with not forcing VM to wholesale. The world hasn’t ended and even with no wholesale requirement VM have struggled. No reason why we should force new entrants to open up their networks before they are in the ground.

      If we are that keen for such networks the public sector is going to hand to step in with some money. I believe there are more pressing priorities for my income tax than building an FTTP network to provide retail competition and to compete with privately financed projects.

      It seems as though the private sector will take care of 75% of the country. State aid would forbid public sector competition and that’s something that should continue regardless of whether we are still subject to it.

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      I just would still like to know how you can have a SMP in just a single or a few spots of the country and how many people would have to be in those few areas to enforce this new definition of SMP.

      I imagine Starbucks and the ilk and the thousands they provide a connection to each day can be deemed it first…

      Rather than “super/ultra fast” broadband they can wholesaler it as “Espresso” broadband, with a name like that everyone will know its fast 😉

  2. Avatar A_Builder

    I think that most FTTP network providers understand that if they offer some reasonable looking wholesale mechanism then it is unlikely that OFCOM will try and impose one.

    The fly in the ointment is VM and their lack of, as far as I know, wholesale of consumer product may well force OFCOM to act. VM do wholesale business and leased type products as well as backhaul.

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      “I think that most FTTP network providers understand that if they offer some reasonable looking wholesale mechanism then it is unlikely that OFCOM will try and impose one.”

      Indeed and there is no reason to. Not only would ISPs in mass numbers not be interested in just flogging your product to a tiny amount of people in a specific part of the country, but thankfully they understand the costs involved in starting a network from scratch.

      “The fly in the ointment is VM and their lack of, as far as I know, wholesale of consumer product may well force OFCOM to act. VM do wholesale business and leased type products as well as backhaul.”

      I suspect Ofcom will maybe look at them again once their current rollout is complete to see how much of the country they are then serving. As well as taking into account how much of the current rollout is FTTP. My thoughts are things will not change as even if VM went from around 50% coverage to 60% coverage of the country it would not be deemed to have SMP as Openreach would still be significantly bigger and still be the player which has SMP in the country as a whole. If it is just FTTP they look at then that will only be a tiny fraction of that 50/60% coverage.
      Then again nobody ever knows what Ofcom will do.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @un4h731x0rp3r0m

      I suspect that you are right in that there Is little point in trying to force VM to open up the coax part of its network. I doubt anyone would be interested apart from anything else.

      The FTTP bit of the VM network is another story as it grows. There is the added hurdle of the FTTP to coax converter. Never having seen one in the flesh I have no idea if it’s easy to revert to straight FTTP?

      All that said provided the majority of FTTP player play nice and do wholesale then I agree OFCOM would be fools to stick their oar in now as there is slowly but surely a market forces run situation developing.

      Anyway interesting times as things seem to be really happening now.

    • Avatar James Blessing

      You say that no one will be interested in their coax, but Comcast are looking at Sky…

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      Er i doubt Comcast are going to spend millions on sky and then roll out a coax network from scratch.

    • Avatar Carl Thomas

      No-one said anything about Comcast building a network from scratch. They would, however, likely be interesting in acquiring VM UK and Ireland to go alongside all the Sky content.

    • Avatar Clifford

      I think what was being communicated to James comment is, if Comcast only buy Sky then for them to have a coax network they would either A) As you state Carl also have to buy Virgin or B) As un4h731x0rp3r0m states have to roll out their own coax network at significant cost as buying Sky only does not get them any coax network to start with.

  3. Avatar A Builder

    @James Blessing

    “You say that no one will be interested in their coax, but Comcast are looking at Sky…”

    That is a fair point: I don’t understand how Comcast looking at Sky is related to VM’s network?

    But my point is that

    a) none of the usual resellers will want to get involved in what is a bit of a nightmare of a network in places. There are some bits of the VM network that are in the dog house.
    b) nobody else is redistributing coax products in the UK so the skills and experience base is limited and it is a sunset product.

    I’m pretty sure that we won’t see DOCIS3.1 over the whole VM network as some of the areas can’t actually handle it due to the way the cabs are daisy chained. Although this is pure speculation and may be totally unfounded.

    So the coax side then becomes a complicated mixed ecology. And markedly less attractive to wholesale.

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