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Cityfibre Eye 1Gb FTTH Broadband for Poole and Christchurch

Monday, February 3rd, 2020 (8:01 am) - Score 2,054
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Fibre optic builder Cityfibre, which has a £4bn ambition to roll-out their 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network to cover 8 million UK homes and businesses, has revealed that their deployment to the Dorset city of Bournemouth will be extended into Poole and Christchurch “as soon as possible.”

At present the operator, which is working with residential ISP partner Vodafone UK (soon to be joined by TalkTalk, once the £200m FibreNation deal completes), is currently in the process of investing £38m to build their FTTH network right across Bournemouth (here). The company has also been able to boost this by upgrading an existing legacy FTTH network in the city (Gigler), which previously covered c.21,000 premises.

NOTE: Cityfibre’s civil engineering contractor in the area is CCN.

Over the years’ the boundary between Bournemouth and its two neighbouring towns – Poole and Christchurch – has become increasingly hard to spot, with urban growth expanding to effectively make them appear more like one big city (at least on a map). Admittedly anybody passing through the areas would easily be able to spot the visual differences.

Now Cityfibre’s boss has said that they “acknowledge we have to incorporate Poole and Christchurch” into their roll-out and are “prepared” to increase their current investment from £38m to £75m+ in order to add both into any future plan, details of which are due to be published soon (Cityfibre’s existing plan is in the process of being expanded due to the FibreNation deal – we’ll probably get more on that next month).

Greg Mesch, Cityfibre CEO, said (Bournemouth Echo):

“We’re investing £38m into just Bournemouth alone and we’re prepared to up that investment into Poole and Christchurch and to make it somewhere in the neighbourhood of, I think, about £75m-£80m.

We just need the cities to understand what we’re doing is bringing a competitive force that will help you and your citizens have a richer life, better industrial output, raise your GDP and sustain you for the next 100 years.”

One interesting fact here is that Cityfibre’s biggest competition for “ultrafast broadband” (100Mbps+) services across the whole area currently only stems from Virgin Media’s soon-to-be 1Gbps capable broadband and TV network, which already covers the vast majority of premises. Meanwhile Openreach only has a very small deployment of 300Mbps G.fast technology and their FTTP is almost completely absent, surprisingly.

However Cityfibre’s timing isn’t ideal, particularly in Poole where locals have so far had to deal with two years’ of extensive street works to both upgrade the local gas mains and to resurface many of the main roads (inc. a lot of pavements) at the same time. A more efficient upgrade would have timed the deployment of fibre to coincide with as much of that work as possible, but none of the operators’ seemed to have done so.

Meanwhile Cityfibre claims that 18,582 homes in Bournemouth are now covered by their new / upgraded FTTH network and apparently 200 installations were carried out last month alone, although we’d be interested to know if any of those were former customers of the old Gigler network.

Vodafone’s related Gigafast Broadband packages currently cost from £28 per month for an unlimited 100Mbps (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.

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14 Responses
  1. Avatar ianh says:

    Pretty standard in the UK to dig, cover, dig, cover. We’ve had gas and now the water guys are coming!

    I can’t remember which country it is, but somewhere in europe they all have to apply at the same time and do the work back to back to keep disruption down.

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      It isn’t really that simple.

      There is a minimum required separation between the various services. So you cannot dig a single trench and chuck everything into it.

      It gets harder and harder as the mains get bigger.

      The exception usually is Comms as fibre ducts are usually pavement and small.

    2. Avatar joe says:

      We already had this nonsense with roads where you can’t dig them up (bar emergencies) after they have been resurfaced for a set period.

      If you try to tie to together you just delay work.

    3. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Traffic can be horrendous during the holiday season in this area so if Cityfibre intend to do their own duct they would be best advised to do it in the winter and any restriction of parking in the residential streets will be highly unwelcome as alternative parking is restricted during the summer season.

    4. Avatar Ken says:

      Its really not the cause of opening a trench and doing all services. On a legislative mater all services have different depths because of requirements. Water is usually your deepest at a nice 1.2meters. But they have branches, mains and feeds. So can be literally anywhere in the road. However all utilities try and keep the locality in the same place do prevent over build etc. but likewise you require planning.

  2. Avatar Meadmodj says:

    I think this is an interesting battle ground and indicator of the market and consumer reaction going forward. With almost 99.5% OR Superfast (6% G.fast) and VM at around 83% as well as Juice and other niche players (e.g Hyperoptic are also in town). It is going to be very interesting how Cityfibre progress and the affect of VM’s imminent 3.1 and possible strategy change.

    It’s probably wise for the money strapped OR (BT) to focus elsewhere concentrating on outlying towns such as Verwood for now. They can join the fray later when other issues are resolved as they are not likely to see significant increased in revenue from Bournemouth.

    One area though without good Ultra/Giga cover is Lilliput and Sand Banks but they can probably afford FoD.

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      I’m not so sure.

      Resellers like Utility Warehouse have a big footprint in and around that area.

      UW are using OR OK via people like Opal (?).

      So if OR don’t upgrade then they kiss good by to that existing market penetration.

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Sandbanks is an interesting question. The importance of that limited road access to the ferry, beach, hotels and local community would make civil engineering of any significant level quite tricky. I suspect the local authority would force it well away from peak season (late spring, summer and to early autumn). Massive traffic jams are problematic enough during those seasons, without street works causing the problem to hit central pool.

    3. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Yes many issues we will have to wait and see.

      A lot will come down to price short/medium term but I see Superfast type products being sufficient for some time for many consumers unless they can get more for the same price. So my assumption is that’s a lot of consumers will stay either on OR based products, the VM minimum product and the slowest packages introduced on Full Fibre. OR can therefore prioritise places like this for late 20s and the projected returns for Cityfibre may be optimistic with this level of competition. We just don’t know how it will pan out.
      In addition the assumption that OR will still be in 100% of their current telephony coverage or that wider BT will seek to retain existing revenue in all existing areas will depend on many issues yet to be decided.

      My view is that this is real hotspot for technology and competition (including Vodafone and O2 5G mobile) so its affect on niche players such as Juice and the wider aspirations of an Altnet rollout are significant.

  3. Avatar Matthew says:

    Are we still considering CityFibre an Altnet at this point or are we considering them a true competitor to Virgin and BT now?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Altnet is really just a general term being given to newer entrants into the network infrastructure market, although there’s no solid formal definition. As such the question isn’t really relevant, particularly while they only cover a tiny fraction of the UK.

      I also don’t see any negative connotations to being considered an altnet, it literally just means alternative network (i.e. alternative to the established national players of Openreach and Virgin Media).

  4. Avatar Andy says:

    Mark, do you think that they will look to move any further out than just Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch? I’m in Ferndown and there is nothing out here except for Openreach FTTC. Are there any other companies that are looking at the surrounding areas?

    1. Avatar Simon Hayter says:

      No plans for Ferndown unless its a new build development site. It’ll be years until we actually see it fully rolled out in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch, the time that happens, some other company will be targetting Broadstone, Ferndown, Ringwood etc.

  5. Avatar Baz says:

    There seems to be a lot of overlap between the virgin areas and these city fibre areas. I’m in the centre-ish of Bournemouth and can’t get either. Frustrating. From what I understand cityfibre haven’t rolled out much further than where Gigler had, according to thinkbroadbands maps anyway. Do we know which specific areas will get upgraded in the near future?

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