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Cityfibre and Vodafone 1Gbps FTTH Broadband is Live in Leeds

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019 (4:00 pm) - Score 3,329

The first customers have now gone live on Cityfibre’s new 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network in the UK City of Leeds, which will cost £120m to roll-out over the next few years and is being sold by local ISP partner Vodafone via their Gigafast Broadband packages.

The deployment 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). So far we’ve seen live customer connections cropping up in Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Cambridge, Coventry, Huddersfield, Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Stirling.

By comparison the large-scale FTTH build in Leeds, which branches out from Cityfibre’s existing 117km long Dark Fibre network in the area (serves public sector and business sites), officially began in June 2019 (here) and is expected to continue until completion during 2025 (they usually aim to cover more than 85% of premises).

Despite this the operator had said that their new network wouldn’t start to connect customers until early 2020, although they appear to have gone live a little earlier than expected (most of the early build is focused upon Beeston, Hunslet and Riverside, Middleton Park, Holbeck, Pudsey, Bramley and Stanningley).

Kim Johnston, CityFibre’s City Manager for Leeds, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“The first customers in Beeston and Hunslet have been connected to CityFibre’s network and are now receiving superior broadband connectivity from Vodafone. Middleton Park, Holbeck, Pudsey, Bramley and Stanningley are set to be the next areas of Leeds to benefit from the roll-out.”

The build itself is being conducted via a local workforce from civil engineering firm O’Connor Utilities Ltd. We note that much of their early roll-out has been quite slow and steady, although the operator’s forward plans for the next 12 months point to a dramatic ramping-up (particularly during H2 2020 – across the city’s west and southern flanks).


One particularly interesting thing to note here is that Cityfibre’s full fibre build is going to directly rub up against Openreach’s FTTP in a number of places next year, particularly around parts of Morley to the south west of Leeds. Likewise Virgin Media’s FTTP extension in other parts of Leeds is in a potentially similar boat, albeit not to the same scale.

We can easily foresee a situation where some streets are dug up by one operator, only for another to come along soon after to do the same (locals are unlikely to welcome that level of disruption). Given the sheer scale of Leeds, it’s entirely possible that this could be the biggest UK city overlap between full fibre rivals so far. We’ll also be interested to see if any homes end up with 2-3 ONTs installed on their inside wall.

Leeds is thus a huge test for whether or not a dense urban commercial market can truly maintain 2-3 Gigabit-capable broadband networks in the same space (models suggest it’s viable but this has yet to be truly tested). Sadly none of the operators release take-up statistics for specific urban areas and so we’ll be left to judge this using third-party data (we think it’s wise to allow 12-24 months post-build for take-up to grow before judging).

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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.
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23 Responses
  1. MartinConf says:

    There should be a law introduced that prevents full fibre overbuild for at least 2 years and any commitments to build have to be started with 6 months to prevent fake claims from providers.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      I don’t think that would work very well in a dense urban area where competition between commercial networks is natural. You’d also hurt consumer choice in the process and no doubt hand an advantage to the biggest operators, which can build faster at scale (or even start lots of builds and then do them very.. slowly..). It would create a lot of extra complexity and likely discourage some investment.

    2. MartinConf says:

      @Mark Jackson

      The current way doesn’t work either.

      You talk about hurting consumer choice, but in reality most people have no (zero) choice so by preventing overbuild for 2 years it means the deployment of full fibre would have to be spread more thinly so more would have at least one choice and yes less properties would have 2 or more choices.

    3. Mark Jackson says:

      Most people, as in around 60% of UK premises (mostly urban areas), already have a choice between at least two major fixed networks (Openreach FTTC, G.fast, FTTP vs Virgin Media HFC / FTTP + various altnets) and various ISPs on those networks. Choice is of course growing with so many full fibre altnets playing in the same waters.

    4. MartinConf says:

      @Mark Jackson

      You should know better, you know I was referring to full fibre deployments

    5. Mark Jackson says:

      On that front it may be better to look at Gigabit capability. Even if we ignore everything else, Virgin will be at 15 million premises by 2021 and Openreach at the same via FTTP come 2025. A lot of complicated considerations come into play if you then start imposing restrictions upon the commercial build, as well as the possibility of legal challenges. There is no magic fix but what the market needs right now is stability.

    6. MartinConf says:

      @Mark Jackson

      Done mind you using relevant percentages to prove your case but to quote unrelated ones is just not cricket and distracting from the true facts that by allowing overbuilding its preventing providers moving their focus to more harder areas.

    7. MartinConf says:

      @Mark Jackson

      Sometimes cows need herding, same for Gigabit capable providers.

    8. Mark Jackson says:

      Take it easy fella 🙂 , don’t take comments on a news article too seriously. It’s all good debate.

    9. CarlT says:

      Introduce that law companies simply build more slowly. However much you try and push them with the law they aren’t going to go into areas they had no intention of building in, they’ll just not build.

      It’s a really bad idea on many levels. It’d reduce competition in urban areas and do exactly nothing for less urban ones.

      There isn’t the demand right now for full fibre in the UK to make a couple of years of exclusivity mean much. It certainly wouldn’t make a company with a budget of £400 per premises passed go and build for £800 per premises passed because someone else has gotten to the £400 per premises areas first. Extend the exclusivity period you’re creating monopolies for longer and incentivising companies to charge more or provide poorer service.

      Best left alone for right now. The approach of government subsidy to get networks to rural areas while leaving the market alone in the 50% or so of the nation where competing networks may be built and run viably is the right one.

    10. joe says:

      Everything Mark & Carl said. 🙂

      Just glad to see a positive snofall of FTTP announcements in time for Xmass. And with the openreach nationalisation dead we can all return to getting on with some really strong fttp build numbers.

  2. Andrew Ferguson says:

    Which bit of Leeds is live? Where ai saw this covered elsewhere they were counting the Huddersfield bit as Leeds.

    Asking so I can get maps updated of course.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      According to Cityfibre, as per the above article, “The first customers in Beeston and Hunslet have been connected.” They did finish a big chunk of build in Beeston so that seems plausible.

  3. ianh says:

    Check out “kenton” in newcastle upon tyne on roadworks.org (set it to the upcoming 12 months) and you will see the same trio are rolling into each there as well.

  4. Liz says:

    Is there much call for high speed fibre internet from crackheads and hookers?

    1. Jake4 says:

      Yes, it’ll allow them to buy there drugs at high speed off the dark web.

  5. John Uncle says:

    Will Vodafone provide FTTP via their “Gigafast” service to properties in Norfolk?

    Literally just seen that after years of slow speeds, finally, Openreach says on their main (Full Fibre Ready) and wholesale site that “FTTP is available”. However, only the BT website shows “Ultrafast 2” as available whereas other providers do not show FTTP as being on offer to the same address.

    Currently on Vodafone Superfast with a speed of around 4 Mbps on VDSL. The BT maximum product on offer is 330 Mbps. Would Vodafone offer the Gigafast service anytime soon because right now their own checker doesn’t show anything other than their FTTC offering despite Openreach saying this area is FTTP ready and BT saying they can do it.

    Hoping Vodafone will offer services to FTTP properties outside of the cities which would drive competition and lower prices islandwide. Can anyone enlighten me on whether rural Norfolk would have a choice of providers?

    1. CarlT says:

      Gigafast will only be available in areas built to by CityFibre.

      Vodafone may release something else in Openreach FTTP areas but either way BT aren’t the only option.

      Check the listings on this very website. Zen Internet among others sell Openreach FTTP, TalkTalk will soon, as will Sky.

    2. John Uncle says:

      CarlT, are Vodafone not going to be providing FTTP via Openreach’s network as well?

      Right now, the Openreach checker updated to “FTTP is available” with a WBC FTTP 1 stage available of “up to 330 download and up to 50 upload”. Thus far only the likes of BT, or Zen offer FTTP on a check (the Ultrafast 2 product of 330Mbps). Vodafone or others still only show a speed of 4.5Mbps available.

      Apparently on a further check this exchange is Huawei (so in theory can do up to 1000Mbps).

      Wouldn’t Vodafone therefore be able to provide FTTP (they call it Gigafast) on this line by say March 2020?

    3. CarlT says:

      If they wanted to buy the wholesale product from Openreach or BT Wholesale they certainly could.

      However I’ve not seen them even trialling an FTTP product from those guys, and to start offering it isn’t as simple as flicking a switch.

  6. Matt says:

    Lisen all I care about is haveing full fiber who cares if it’s an over build I say do it it dosent matter

    1. CarlT says:

      Neither do spelling, grammar or punctuation going by your post. Grammarly is fine on FTTC. You are all good.

  7. Meadmodj says:

    Still too many unknowns. VM DOCSIS 3.1, 5G focus etc. Boris’s government will probably let the market to continue to drive broadband in urban while concentrating any subsidy in Rural. The reality is Alnets will have to avoid OR in the main or it will undermine their business cases. OR has many ISP “buyers” and Vodafone are playing with two hands. They also need to keep an eye on the strategic placement of 5G. A rocky road to which the government need to introduce some investment confidence.
    Just returned from Vietnam. Some old ADSL, some Satellite, FTTP to large buildings but a whole nation walking around with phones using 4G and most apartments/hotels/restaurants we used utilised 4G for their WIFI. Also for a one party state there appeared to be considerable market competition.

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