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Cityfibre Deal to Provide Capacity for Three UK’s 5G Rollout

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 (7:39 am) - Score 6,345

Mobile operator Three UK, which from the end of this month will have expanded their new ultrafast 5G mobile (mobile broadband) network to cover 65 new locations (here), has signed a new nationwide backhaul capacity deal to harness Cityfibre’s growing full fibre network in order to fuel their new service.

As a result of this deal Three UK claims to have become the first mobile operator to leverage Cityfibre’s national full fibre network to support its 5G rollout, although some of their rivals (e.g. EE) also have general mobile capacity deals with the operator (here). In any case the move should complement Three UK’s existing fibre optic capacity deals with companies like SSE Enterprise Telecoms etc.

The first phase of the new agreement will see Cityfibre provide backhaul connectivity to Three’s 5G cell sites, with hundreds of sites already planned for connection this year across a number of CF’s Gigabit City projects. The first connections to sites will go live in the summer 2020.

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:

“This is a huge vote of confidence in CityFibre from a national mobile operator with big plans for 5G. Three’s decision to leverage our rapidly expanding networks nationwide shows the critical role full fibre infrastructure has to underpin 5G rollouts and reinforces CityFibre’s position as the UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform.

Our networks have been designed to support both the technology and insatiable demand for data throughput required to power 5G networks and services. This deal will not only help accelerate 5G coverage throughout the UK, but also further accelerate our rollout of full fibre coverage nationwide.”

Dave Dyson, CEO of Three UK, said:

“A competitive fibre backhaul market is critical for the fast and efficient rollout of 5G. CityFibre are aggressively rolling out fibre across Britain and our strategic partnership with them will use the UK’s largest 5G spectrum portfolio to deliver the fastest 5G network nationwide.”

At present Cityfibre has a large number of Dark Fibre networks across various cities and towns. On top of that they’re also investing £4bn to deploy a Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband infrastructure to cover around 1 million UK premises by the end of 2021 (phase one – costing c.£500m), before potentially rising to 8 million premises by the end of 2025 or later (here).

The new FTTP network will also be ideal for serving Three UK’s expected network of 5G small cells in dense urban areas.

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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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9 Responses
  1. Avatar AJ Dunn

    Iv’e been with 3 uk since 2014 and they’re the only service that enable me to have a problem free internet & mobile phone service and now they’re getting even better! Well worth the subscription fee, brilliant.

  2. Avatar Simone

    Would explain why nextgenaccess have suddenly starting to clear ducks and lay more dark fibre in my area. I thought it was got g.fast but no such luck.

  3. Avatar José Armas

    Until today, and I live in Kensington (that’s mean London city centre), item true. I have the 5G device and the speed I have its 1.5Mg/sec download, 1.23 mg/s and all of this range. I make a several speed test and it’s always the same. I have pics of this test if someone want to see it. I’m trying to leave the company as soon as possible. Awful service.

    • Avatar Simone

      If you can afford to live there go with EE and get a decent provider. You get what you pay for..

    • Avatar Mike

      You may want to wait and try Three’s 5G service before getting stuck in a contract with another network provider, but generally in urban areas, EE is best, if you can afford it.

  4. Avatar José Armas

    Item =its NOT

  5. Avatar Gig

    Does this mean those chosen locations will get fibre for the properties?

  6. Avatar Adam Jarvis

    Good to finally see the headlne mention the fibre backhaul required to service 5G (and 3G/4G) radio masts, because without more fibre in the ground throughout the UK far and wide, 5G will be a superficial waste of space, in all but name.

    Rurally (especially), the backhaul capacity of a mast needs to be legislated for.

    (Ofcom dragging their feet as usual, pretending this isn’t an issue), so that a 5G mast is ‘fit for purpose’ and actually capable of delivering the 5G backhaul and a poor outdated backhaul slower 2G/3G connection isn’t a potential bottleneck, meaning the mast doesn’t provide anything like 5G speeds. i.e. Provider shouldn’t be allowed to just replace the mast radio equipment as ‘5G’, without upgrading the backhaul at the same time.

    To explain: When your device shows 5G, the signal shown is only the type of signal used between the device and the mast, it doesn’t convey the bottlenecks elsewhere, such as a bottleneck in poor backhaul provision to/from the 5G mast.

    5G is totally reliant on the fibre backhaul, yet there’s almost an journalist agreement (ISPreview is guilty of this) never to actually mention the fibre backhaul required for a 5G mast in a article about mobile coverage, so that the general publc think 5G is some sort of magical ubiquitous blanket of 5G radio waves that is in the sky above us, that our devices magically connect to.

    It’s about time everyone realised that 5G is just the connection between the device and the nearest mast, and from there it’s either fibre or a microwave link to a fibre connection, there is nothing magical about 5G, as said it’s 100% reliant on (dark/lit) fibre in the ground.

    Without ‘cheap consumer’ fibre in the ground throughout the UK, 5G coverage will never be ubiquitous, it will just be a marketing gimmick, it will be too expensive to deploy.

    And to the people that say that only commecial contracts will provide the backhaul to 5G, they are living in the past.

    Maybe they don’t want the general public to make the connection betweeen subsidies paid for fibre rollout/FTTP and the backhaul that is also been accessed to provide 5G backhaul, i.e. put pressure on mobile data per MB prices/phone contracts, because subsidies have been paid to rollout better mobile coverage.

    The subsidised consumer rollout of fibre, especially within the local loop, will provided the backhaul to 5G masts eventually (it will be a commercial contract in all but name but provided over consumer subsidised backhaul, aka. Openreach physical infrastrucure access.

    Don’t believe the ‘gigabit’ hype regarding mobile 5G, it needs a hell of a lot of fibre in the ground to provide the speeds they talk about providing, per customer.

  7. Avatar Q

    Three 5G with exceptional signal strength and immaterial interference: <3Mbps and a ping of 771ms. No support as its all online. NOT WHAT I PAID FOR.

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