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Cityfibre Starts £25m FTTH Broadband Build in Doncaster UK

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020 (12:21 pm) - Score 2,243

Full fibre builder Cityfibre has today announced that they’ve finally started their £25m project to build a new 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband ISP network in the South Yorkshire town of Doncaster, which will aim to reach “almost every home and business” (usually 85%+). But competition will be fierce.

At present Cityfibre already operates a Dark Fibre network in Doncaster (originally acquired from KCOM in 2015), which is used to serve local business and public sector sites. But since 2018 the town has also been on the operator’s future £4bn roll-out plan for FTTH technology and work on that has finally begun.

Construction work is said to have officially commenced in the town centre and Hyde Park area, with Hexthorpe & Balby North set to follow. Meanwhile the local street works are being run by Heneghans, but sadly Cityfibre hasn’t said precisely how many premises will be covered or when the build is due to complete.

The operator added that Doncaster Council and local communities have been “fully consulted to manage disruption and ensure a fast and successful roll-out.” On top of that local residents will be kept informed through digital advertisements and mailings ahead of works commencing in their streets, which will respect the current social distancing guidelines.

Natalie Ward, CityFibre’s City Manager for Doncaster, said:

“For people across Doncaster, their digital future is just around the corner. Work is now underway and that is something to be celebrated. Full fibre broadband will help households and businesses access all they need at lightning speed, but the benefits are far deeper than that – from enabling smart home technologies to giving people the freedom to work from home with ease.

The investment also comes at a critical time for Doncaster’s forward-thinking business community. Next generation full fibre connectivity can drive innovation and productivity, ultimately giving businesses the platform they need to realise their growth ambitions. And it won’t just improve business locally – it will also help businesses take their products or services to an international audience.”

As usual all of this forms part of the operator’s huge investment project, which aims to cover around 1 million UK homes and businesses by the end of 2021 and then 8 million in the future (expected to be largely completed by the end of 2025). At present some 62 UK cities and towns have been identified for their roll-out plan (here) and we expect this to hit 100+ in the future, once the FibreNation plan has been fully integrated.

However a closer look at Doncaster reveals a difficult climate for Cityfibre’s plan. Much of the southern side of the town is already covered by Openreach’s (BT) rival FTTP network and they’re actively expanding into new areas, such as along the western quarter. Meanwhile Virgin Media’s gigabit capable network currently covers most of the town and they’re currently building more on the north east side, as well as in some southern areas.

Suffice to say the Cityfibre, Openreach and Virgin Media will be looking at a three way clash in some parts of the town, although competitive models suggests that this should be sustainable. Otherwise Cityfibre’s new network isn’t live yet but it will eventually be sold to local homes via Vodafone UK’s comparatively cheap Gigafast Broadband packages (set to be joined by TalkTalk in the future).

Leave a Comment
19 Responses
  1. Avatar Ryan

    Another example of place not needing another provider.

    Virgin is 1GB soon, they have FTTP by BT already meanwhile hundreds of towns have no Virgin or FTTP so are stuck with FTTC at best.

    • Avatar Harry

      Yep, I live in Lincoln the main city of Lincolnshire.
      We do not even have one FTTP internet.
      Virgin is the only good thing we have 500mbps where I live.
      But it is expensive.

    • Avatar Matt

      Also guessing there is no existing infrastructure for CityFibre or alternative providers in your area.

  2. Avatar Gary

    Hopefully competition is fierce enough that they don’t even make a return on their investment.

    I know its not individual companies responsibility to help achieve better nationwide coverage of FTTH/P but if you’re going to overbuild well served areas then frankly I’m more than happy to see you fail.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Keep spreading the love and kindness, Gary.

    • Avatar Gary

      Yeah I know Carl, I’d not really want to see people out of jobs etc….

      Just we have a huge divide across the country and a National target/aim backed with tax payers money, while those capable of improving this continue to overbuild to then have to discount and fight over market share, with cost being the main weapon driving prices and thus return on investment down and harming the business case for more marginal areas.

      There are disadvantages to competition as well as benefits is all.

    • Avatar Gary

      Me again Carl 🙂

      To be fair, these companies aren’t spreading love and kindness either, they really don’t care one way or the other if people get a better connection or not, it’s business for profit no more no less. If the models suggesting overbuild is a sound investment prove to be wrong I’ll not shed a tear for them.

      I know everyone seems to support choice and not being tied to one incumbent, but when that potential for choice means that your area isn’t worth the investment risk then who actually gains from that ?

    • Avatar Harmz

      Not taking sides, just making observations.

      1. Not all “Fibre” is equal. I can’t wait for cityfibre to deploy to my city, because I really want the upload speeds!
      I’ve already got virgin, but even when they rollout gigabit within next 18months, 50mbps will be all they offer. Openreach might be considering symmetric, but it will likely be business and/or expensive compared to their 1000/110 residential offering.
      So I’d actually pay MORE for cityfibre over the others, so not necessarily a price war. Especially when you look at their lower packages also beating the competition for upload.

      2. Cityfibre isn’t necessarily to blame here. There may well be many more towns and cities in more need, but unless CF have already got their fibre running through it, it doesn’t fit their model. And yeah, sure, there might be many other cities that CF have already announced that have more need, but by the sounds of it, they’re pushing ahead with all of them. Civil works are being carried out by local firms, so rolling out to Doncaster isn’t necessarily taking resources away from somewhere else. It might just be that the Doncaster project manager to pass through recruitment, civil contracts and council hoops before cities. I mean, they’ve announced bury st Edmunds just a couple days ago, it’s not like they’re doing one at a time. And who knows how long CF have had Doncaster in the pipeline. They could have been planning this well before VM gave any hope of Gig1 or OR announced any local exchanges, in which case what else could they do?

    • Avatar CarlT

      So you’d be okay with them failing if they were building in the areas you want them to as well, Gary?

      They aren’t getting any taxpayer funding. Any company building anywhere is doing it for a profit, whether with taxpayer subsidy or not. Only mutuals and community schemes are not.

      You’re either okay with them all failing or you specifically want the ones building where you think they shouldn’t to fail. You’ve implied/stated both.

      I personally want each and every one to succeed, even if I have my doubts about some. If they don’t succeed that’s the risk that comes with business, but I don’t wish it on them.

      Your mileage may vary.

  3. Avatar GNewton

    The whole approach is wrong. Fibre broadband should be regarded as a utility, and as is the case with other utilities like water, gas, electricity, etc. you don’t build multiple ones of the same kind into a property. No wonder this country is so far behind!

    • Comparing hugely complex and variable broadband networks, many of which have developed through competition rather than being owned by the state, with linear services like water, gas and electricity is not very apples-to-apples.

      Having said that there are areas where I think that operators could work more closely together, but the reality is broadband remains a very different kettle of fish. The rabbit is long since out of the hat on that one and trying to put it all the way back now, depending upon what that would actually look like, is not without its negatives.

      As ever it’s important to always ask the question – what do you hope to achieve with X change? Followed by, is that the most effective and cost / time efficient way of achieving such an outcome? Usually requiring a lot of research to answer the pros vs cons.

    • Avatar 125us

      If you treat it as a utility investors will make their decisions based on the lower returns that they could then expect. It wouldn’t result in a faster rural rollout, it would just lower the funds available.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Not sure if you’re aware of this but it tended to be private companies that built these utilities initially before they were nationalised.

      A swift Google indicates electricity wasn’t nationalised until 1948 and a little over 20 years before there were over 600 electricity supply companies.

      Check the history of BT.

      See a pattern in terms of private investment initially yet?

  4. Avatar Another Gary

    Where is South Doncaster? Living in the Doncaster area and don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say “South Doncaster”. Doncaster centre is tiny, however Doncaster metropolitan area is massive for a place that still hasn’t managed to get city status.

    Also, where are all the areas with FTTP, I thought it was just the area around the race course and towards Bessacarr and a couple of other small areas.

  5. Avatar Joe Pineapples

    I live in I guess ‘West’ Doncaster (Warmsworth near border with Balby). Still no signs anything happening from BT.

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