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Cityfibre Begins £120m FTTH Broadband Rollout in Leeds UK

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 (5:39 pm) - Score 2,277
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Fibre optic network builder Cityfibre has today announced that they’ve begun building their new 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network in the city of Leeds (at a cost of £120 million), which is being supported by residential ISP partner Vodafone UK (Gigafast). But local competition is rife.

The new infrastructure is based off their existing 117km long Dark Fibre network in the city, which was previously only used to serve public sector and business sites. By comparison the new “full fibre” service aims to reach “nearly every home and business in the city” (they usually try to reach more than 85% of premises) but it won’t be fully completed until 2025, which reflects the huge scale of this particular project.

Construction work is said to have officially commenced in areas of Beeston, Hunslet and Riverside, Middleton Park, Holbeck, Pudsey, Bramley and Stanningley, although except for a few small bits of work (e.g. Lockwood Way and A61 Hunslet Road) we found it difficult to spot much of any significant activity via Roadworks.org today. Most of the major work in Leeds is still coming from Virgin Media and Openreach (BT).

Nevertheless Cityfibre said that the first homes and businesses should be able to connect to this network from early 2020 and they’ve picked civil engineering firm O’Connor Utilities Ltd to do the heavy lifting via a local workforce.

Kim Johnston, CityFibre’s City Manager for Leeds, said:

“This is an exciting time for both CityFibre and Leeds as we start to roll out full fibre across the city. With work now underway, the first homes will soon be able to access Gigabit capable services, not only helping households access all the latest entertainment at lightning speed, but from enabling smart home technology to giving people the freedom to work from home with ease.

As well as transforming our home lives, full fibre will lay the foundations for a number of smart city initiatives, such as big data projects and high-definition CCTV, which will cement Leeds’s status as a leading digital destination.”

Councillor James Lewis, Leeds City Council, said:

“We welcome investment by CityFibre into Leeds to deliver a modern, fit-for-purpose digital infrastructure for residents and businesses alike.

Leeds City Council continues to work closely with the private sector to facilitate economic growth in the digital age and CityFibre’s full fibre network will play a major role in supporting Leeds’s Inclusive Growth strategy and ensuring a resilient and dynamic economy for years to come.”

All of this forms part of the network operator’s £2.5bn private investment to cover around 1 million UK homes by the end of 2021, before rising to 5 million premises across 37 UK cities and towns by the end of 2024 (here).

Meanwhile the Gigafast Broadband packages from Vodafone currently cost from £28 per month for an unlimited 200Mbps (symmetric speed) service on an 18 month contract, including free installation (you also get a good wireless router), which rises to £48 per month for their top 900Mbps (Gigabit) tier.

As usual the biggest obstacle for Cityfibre’s deployment in Leeds is the fact that Virgin Media’s soon to be 1Gbps+ capable network already covers the majority of the city and Openreach is rapidly increasing their presence too using a mix of 330Mbps capable G.fast and also some of their own FTTP. Suffice to say that this will be a huge test for the operator.

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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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7 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew

    Am I reading this right it’s going to take 6 years to cover Leeds?

    • It will take a fair bit of time even for the biggest players. Leeds is a big place. So for a “new” entrant (FTTH wise) like Cityfibre it’s a much longer winded project as they don’t have the benefit of established scale in the engineering side.

    • Avatar Matthew

      Suppose that makes sense just seems a very long time is all. But looks like Leeds will have a lot of choice as the years go on.

  2. Avatar Danny

    I live in Wakefield which is right next to leeds infact some housing estates are half leeds postcode half wakefield and city fibre have the dark fibre in Wakefield I just hope this will include Wakefield also.

    • Avatar CarlT

      All the places mentioned there are Leeds council wards even though some of them I think have WF postcode properties.

      I do not think this project extends into Wakefield proper. If they build to Wakefield they’ll announce it.

  3. Avatar Techno

    Aha, so that is why Zen upgraded me to superfast for free, and haven’t applied the one year price rise from £28 to £32. I live in one of these areas.

    As an aside, I just removed a piece of copper wire from my bicycle tyre after a puncture. I cycle past these workings every day…

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