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Cityfibre Confirm 14 UK Towns and Cities for Phase 2 FTTH Rollout

Friday, July 19th, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 4,744
cityfibre mk home build ftth

Cityfibre has today confirmed the next 14 UK cities and towns (only three are new additions) to benefit from Phase Two their £2.5bn rollout of a new Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network, which is being supported by residential ISP partner Vodafone and aims to cover 5 million premises by 2025.

The £2.5bn project was first announced last October 2018 (full details), which included a list of the 37 towns and cities being targeted and today’s announcement effectively brings this to 41 with the addition of Inverness, Ipswich and Lowestoft. As usual these are all locations where Cityfibre already has or will soon have a Dark Fibre network to build outwards from (initially used for connecting public sector and / or business sites).

So far Cityfibre has split their plans into two phases. Phase One, which is already in the build stage, involves an investment of around £500m and aims to cover a “minimum” of 1 million homes and businesses in 12 cities and towns by the end of 2021. So far construction has already started in 10 of those and the first services have gone live in 5 of them.

Until today the plan for Phase Two had not yet been confirmed but did contain a tentative list of 25 additional towns and cities. The 14 confirmed today (including the three new additions) will ultimately add an additional 1 million premises (total of 2 million) to Cityfibre’s confirmed roll-out plan. Obviously this still leaves 3 million left to be confirmed but there’s plenty of time for that.

The operator estimates that over 3,250 construction (engineering) jobs will be created as a result of the locations confirmed so far (potentially reaching 5,000 once all of the areas for the 5 million target have been fully confirmed). On completion, Cityfibre claims the total economic impact of “full fibre” in these locations alone could exceed £16.3bn, creating over 115,000 indirect jobs (we always take such figures with a pinch of salt).

NOTE: Cityfibre aim to cover at least 85% of premises in each town and city on their list.

Confirmed Phase One Areas (12) – c.1m premises
Milton Keynes (£40m)
Aberdeen (£40m)
Bournemouth (£35m) – Cityfibre already has a legacy FTTH network to c.20k premises
Peterborough (£30m)
Edinburgh (£100m)
Coventry (£60m)
Huddersfield (£30m)
Stirling (£10m)
Cambridge (£20m) – c.60,000 premises
Leeds (£120m)
Southend-on-Sea (£35m) – c.100,000 premises
Northampton (£40m)

Confirmed Phase Two Areas (14) – c.1m premises
Batley
Bradford
Derby
Dewsbury
Doncaster
Inverness (NEW Addition)
Ipswich (NEW Addition)
Leicester
Lowestoft (NEW Addition)
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Rotherham
Slough
Swindon
Worthing

Future Locations (15)
Bath
Bracknell
Bristol
Crawley
Glasgow
Halifax
Harrogate
Maidenhead
Manchester
Nottingham
Reading
Sheffield
Southampton
Wakefield
Worthing

Consumers in these areas are offered packages via Vodafone’s Gigafast Broadband service, which currently costs from £28 a month for an unlimited 100Mbps (symmetric speed) service on an 18 month contract – including free installation (you also get a good wireless router) – and this rises to £48 per month for their top 900Mbps+ (Gigabit) tier.

Cleverly Vodafone has managed to negotiate a degree of exclusivity over access to Cityfibre’s network during the build stage (all without having to fund the build itself), although eventually this will come to an end and other ISPs will then be able to join the platform.

Greg Mesch, CityFibre CEO, said:

“CityFibre’s sole purpose is to deliver the future-proof digital infrastructure the UK deserves. With a new Prime Minister set to increase government’s ambitions for the pace of full fibre rollout, we are delighted to welcome another 14 towns and cities to our Gigabit City Club. These Gigabit Cities will not only gain new full fibre networks that will spark their digital transformation, but also unleash the benefits that only competitive infrastructure investment can bring.

Our rollout to five million homes is gathering momentum. We have now confirmed 26 locations and over two million homes in our programme. We are investing, we are building, and we are connecting customers to networks of the future.”

Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of The Highland Council, said:

“We are delighted to see Inverness confirmed as part of CityFibre’s national full fibre rollout. Digital infrastructure, fit for the 21st century, is critical to Inverness’ future – a city-wide roll-out of full fibre from CityFibre will ensure we have the best possible platform in place. The full roll-out builds on work led by the Council on an ultrafast network for the public sector. Full fibre delivers the potential to transform how we communicate, the way we live and work, it will drive economic growth and innovation and help our communities & businesses thrive in a rapidly changing world.”

As ever the biggest threat to Cityfibre’s plan comes from rival “ultrafast broadband” (100Mbps+) networks. Cable operator Virgin Media is already able to offer 500Mbps+ broadband speeds to many of the same areas and they’ll soon start offering Gigabit performance once their DOCSIS 3.1 network begins going live this year in several UK cities (details).

Similarly Openreach (BT) are busy ramping up their own FTTP network to reach 15 million premises by around 2025 and this too will be deploying into many of the same locations as Cityfibre. Openreach also has an ultrafast hybrid fibre solution via G.fast but there’s now a big question mark over whether or not that will reach the 5.7 million premises it’s currently targeted to cover by March 2021.

Lest we forget that some major alternative network (altnet) ISPs, such as Hyperoptic, are already playing in many of the same areas and there are others too (see our Summary of UK Full Fibre ISP Plans). Suffice to say that the market for new ultrafast networks in urban areas is turning into an aggressively competitive battlefield and it’s currently too early to call a winner.

Much will of course depend upon whether or not Cityfibre and Vodafone can generate strong take-up over time but it will probably be a couple of years before we know how that side of things is going. At the same time it’s been widely reported that both of the candidates to be the UK’s next Prime Minister have promised to dramatically accelerate full fibre (here), which may or may not help Cityfibre.

At present Boris Johnson has set the welcome but seemingly impossible target of achieving nationwide coverage by 2025, while Jeremy Hunt has opted for the slightly less dramatic but still totally unrealistic date of 2027 (note: the current target is 2033 and even that seems ambitious to us). So far as we can tell neither of these two have consulted the industry before setting out their plans.

The only way that we can see this being even remotely possible is if they watered down the definition of “full fibre” or “premises passed” in such a way as to include Virgin Media’s hybrid fibre network, while at the same time throwing billions of pounds on the table. Even so you’d still have to find a way of doing the 30% of premises in a very short space of time and all without ruining the competitive market.

cityfibre phase 2 map uk

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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 Steve

    Nooo, I csnt believe they bumped Glasgow out of phase 2

    • It hasn’t. The “confirmed” phase 2 list so far only covers an additional 1 million premises (2 mill total) and that leaves 3 million premises yet to be confirmed in the other cities for rollout by 2025.

  2. Avatar adslmax

    Where is Telford on the list? I can’t believe it!

    • Avatar CarlT

      They’re building out from existing metropolitan area networks. There isn’t one in Telford, therefore it’s not on the list.

  3. Avatar Oache4u

    Unbelievable Norwich is also left out

    • Avatar CarlT

      They’re building out from their existing metropolitan area networks. There isn’t one in Norwich, therefore it’s not on the list.

  4. Avatar Ian

    Surely there are places like where i currently live in North Tyneside that are MASSIVE black spots with no fibre provider (virgin does cover many areas around here but definitely not all), that they operators could target? I.e. yes they overlay in competitive areas, but also include large slices of the black spots where they will have no competition at that speed and thus increase their conversion?

    It must be the same in other cities. There is easily 1000 houses in a dense area where i am with virgin and BT FTTP in new builds around us.

    (also the job postings for CityFibre in the last 2 weeks would suggest the Newcastle rollout is coming soon)

    • Avatar SimonR

      See CarlT’s reply above to similar question. These are towns where CityFibre already has a network.

    • Avatar Ian

      You’ve missed my point.
      The article is talking about them building out from city’s where they already have connectivity. I was referring to the point made about the treat from existing vendors.
      North Tyneside is where i live and is an example of a situation where i know many areas that are not covered by an existing supplier that CityFibre could target to increase takeup rates. Newcastle has their dark fibre network already and the article states they will be building out from these, so even though i was using this area as an example, its highly plausible they will indeed come this way.

      There have been a few articles of late about people getting sick of having their streets dug up multiple times. The ROI on being the 2nd, 3rd etc vendor to target an area seems like it would be much lower.

    • Avatar SimonR

      Ahh, OK. I wasn’t aware that CityFibre has a network in place there.

  5. Avatar Robertas

    2005 already had 100Mbps broadband in one of East European country (currently available 1000 Mbps for 20 – 25 Euro/month).
    Also most mobile networks offers +100Mbps speeds over 4G.
    So wired broadband with speeds below 200 Mbps – absolutely pointless investment.

    • Avatar Badem

      Not sure what internet speeds in Eastern European countries in 2005 has to do with FTTP rollout in the UK in 2019-2025?

      Fast speeds over Wireless are great except in heavily urbanised areas when the bandwidth comes severely congested and speeds plummet, there is no future resilience in that without massive investment and connectivity between the broadcast spots which is… Fibre…

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Robertas

      I am not sure what you mean.

      City offer a value tier of 100/100 but equally offer 1000/1000 and as it is full fibre it can be anything/anything on an upgrade pathway.

      This is IMHO good work that benefits people and business.

      It is also sensibly targeted as CarlT points out above as it leverages previous investments of fibre in the ground and is into towns and cities where they understand the local council street-works policies ground ducts etc.

      Much to be happy about for the lucky ones who cannot connect to this decent value service.

      My only slight quibble is why there isn’t a mid value 330/330 tier – or maybe there is and I just can’t spot it: anyone?

  6. Avatar Robertas

    Baden ->>>
    Eastern European countries for villages use cooper or wireless or hybrid (cooper+wireless).
    For heavy urbanised areas use cooper or wireless or fibre or hybrid.
    Minimum speeds in villages over 30 Mbps.
    Minimum speeds in towns over 100 Mbps.
    Technologies in UK still “stone age”.

    • Avatar Robertas

      UK ISP not invested into new technologies. Just offered phone line + broadband. People’s was forced obtain phone line and pay fees even not used landline.
      Eastern European countries invested into technologies which allows use broadband without landlines.
      On 2005 my ISP provided broadband via LAN cable, look like current UK FTTC technology. I received 100 Mbps. At this moment ISP upgraded LAN cable into fibre and speed over 900 Mbps.
      UK’s 35th place by internet speed – very poor if take into account £50 bill for 300 Mbps package.

    • Avatar Polish migrant

      @Robertas,
      Sure, same in Poland like in Lithuania or Latvia. Everything founded by EU.

  7. Avatar Dominic Davis-Foster

    Why the focus on small towns and not larger cities? Easier achievement as there are fewer properties?

    • Avatar SimonR

      CityFibre are – as I understand it – concentrating on locations where they already have a network in place.

  8. Avatar John

    Invidious to claim this is a UK development. Not a single location listed in Wales…

    • Avatar Matthew

      There isn’t a single Cityfibre Network in Wales always thought they would of done one in Cardiff but they never did.

  9. Avatar Robertas

    @Polish migrant
    Lithuania introduced fibre optic broadband from 1998. So everything started without EU support.
    2005 my ISP changed LAN cables (100 Mbps) to Fibre (300 Mbps on 2005 and 1000 Mbps now).
    Main problem – UK ISP providers long time used BT phone lines and not invested in modern technologies.
    I was shocked when 2005 come to UK and all ISP providers offered broadband over phone line (speed around 5 Mbps, later upgraded to 10 Mbps and now use 60 Mbps fibre package).
    Now awaiting Ultra Fibre Broadband in my area.

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