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1Gbps Cityfibre Home Broadband Goes Live in Cambridge UK

Monday, December 16th, 2019 (7:43 am) - Score 2,746

Full fibre network builder Cityfibre, which is currently in the process of investing £20m to build a new Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network that will reach around 60,000 premises in Cambridge via UK ISP partner Vodafone (here), appears to have put their network live with the first customers getting a connection.

The local roll-out represents a significant expansion of the operator’s existing 44km long metro Dark Fibre network, which was initially only being used to serve local businesses and public sector sites in certain parts of the city. Work on this build began in May 2019 and is due to complete by the end of 2021.

Under the original plan Cityfibre were due to connect their first residential customers in Cambridge during the summer but this was lately delayed into the autumn window. The latest independent data from Thinkbroadband confirms that the first homes have now finally gone live on Vodafone’s related Gigafast Broadband packages (these cost from just £28 per month), although an official announcement has not yet been made.

The development means that Cambridge joins Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Coventry, Huddersfield, Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Stirling as some of the first Phase One cities where Cityfibre’s new FTTH network has now gone live for customer connections. Overall Cityfibre’s roll-out has so far reached around 141,000 premises (estimated) since it began at the very end of last year and they continue to ramp-up the deployment.

NOTE: Pictured top is a Cityfibre Optical Network Terminal (ONT); these are installed inside homes and connect to Vodafone’s router.

As usual all of this effort forms part of the operator’s wider £2.5bn plan to reach 1 million premises across the United Kingdom by the end of 2021 (Phase One) and then 5 million by the end of 2025 via 60 UK cities and towns (here). Cityfibre’s biggest rival in the city will be Virgin Media, which can already cover nearly 90% of premises (a similar coverage level to Cityfibre’s target) and is due to start offering 1Gbps speeds by 2021 (here).

We should also point out that Openreach’s ultrafast FTTP network reaches about 6% of local premises and their 330Mbps capable hybrid fibre G.fast technology covers 32%. Likewise the area is home to another full fibre ISP called Cambridge Fibre. Suffice to say that there’s a fair bit of local competition for Cityfibre to tackle and they’ve so far built most of their coverage across the city’s north east side.

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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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14 Responses
  1. Avatar SimonR

    Does that have an Ethernet port on it, or do you still need to use their router (in modem mode, or similar)?

    I remember somebody on here ran through some details for me a while ago, but I hadn’t hoped it would take this long for the roadworks to get to my house.

    • The white cable in that picture is a standard LAN / Ethernet one that runs to the router. As the ONT is Cityfibre then it needs to be an open access setup, so that ISPs other than Vodafone (they supply the same Gigafast router on FTTP as FTTC) can offer services over the same network in the future.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      Like OR Cityfibre currently provide an ONT for network compatibility. Things may change going forward with combined ONT/Router but I prefer the concept of a separate ONT as it creates a clean separation between Network provider/technology and the ISP as well as making installation and correct positioning of equipment easier. The ONT will provide the WAN feed to your ISP router which may have a dedicated WAN input or an LAN port that can be utilised as a WAN input. The ISP will provide the router which in the case of Cityfibre is likely to be just Vodafone for consumer in the short term.

    • Avatar Jonny

      I tried to find an install guide to prove it on the Vodafone website but it seems they still haven’t integrated any of the Gigafast content into their usual support channels.

      But yes, it is an Ethernet handoff from the CityFibre ONT, the Vodafone service will be tagged to a specific VLAN and these vary in different areas. Support can usually have their arm twisted to tell you what that is, or you can probably just sniff the packets and find out if you’re not getting anywhere with them.

    • Avatar SimonR

      Thanks guys – have my own pfSense setup, so just want a WAN port I can connect to (once it gets to my house).

  2. Avatar cipnt

    There is also another smaller ISP called Bridge Fibre that offers full fibre at competitive prices for businesses

    • True but as this is a consumer site and thus we’re more focused upon those that serve homes, as well as businesses. Sadly Bridge Fibre’s website doesn’t include any package prices and thus we’re unable to list them.

  3. Avatar Marty

    What’s the typical electric load of a ONT would be interesting to know

    • Avatar CarlT

      I’ve seen numbers of 8-14 watts depending on load and model. No reason these can’t be lower for newer GPON kit.

    • Plus unlike copper line DSL services, which usually don’t enjoy being turned on and off a lot, you can happily switch-off the ONT and Router at night without worrying about it affecting your speed.

  4. Avatar Holly

    Gosh all these places getting saturated – are they ever going to move out of Cambridge – Southampton and the other places that now have a dozen FTTP providers like Sheffield? we are 3 miles from Sheffield out towards Outibridge and can’t even get FTTC! – they need to come to areas they are not already serving.

  5. Avatar Scott

    Do any of you know when city fibre will be rolling out properly to residential areas in Glasgow? They dug up my street in the summer, and installed equipment, but since then, i’ve heard/seen nothing.

  6. Avatar Markus Kuhn

    What packet latencies do these FTTP connections offer? Are they vastly better than the 20 ms ping round-trip times of a DOCSIS 3.0 modem or do they have similar medium slotting times? For some application protocols (NFS, SMB, VNC or X11 to $WORK) latency is now much more critical than throughput!

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