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Cityfibre Prep Rollout of 1Gb Broadband in Slough and Swindon

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020 (2:31 pm) - Score 2,160
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Cityfibre UK has today revealed the first solid details of their plan to deploy a new “gigabit-capable” Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTH) based broadband ISP network across the towns of Slough (Berkshire) and Swindon (Wiltshire), which will involve a commercial investment of £24m and £40m respectively.

As usual this project forms part of the operator’s wider £4bn investment plan (here), which currently aims to cover around 1 million premises by the end of 2021 and then 8 million across 100+ cities and towns (c.30% of the UK) – the latter target is expected to be “substantially completed” by the end of 2025. All of this is usually supported by their residential ISP partners, such as Vodafone and TalkTalk.

NOTE: Cityfibre tends to target “nearly every home” (85%+) of the areas they enter.

The operator already has a Dark Fibre network in both towns, which is currently being used for bespoke business connectivity (leased lines, Ethernet etc.). No doubt this will provide a useful base for starting the construction of their new FTTP network to local homes and smaller businesses in both locations.

Detailed engineering surveys have already begun in both towns and the first building work is due to commence in October 2020 (work should finish in 2023). Cityfibre has appointed Stacey King as their City Manager for Slough, while Neil Madle will take up the same role for Swindon. In both locations the operator has once again chosen VolkerSmart Technologies to conduct their civil engineering work.

David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said:

“Every modern, vibrant economy needs access to fast broadband and we have made it a priority to ensure residents and businesses in Swindon are able to benefit from the latest technology.

We welcome CityFibre’s investment in our town as it furthers our aim of providing a future-proofed, Full Fibre digital infrastructure and a greater choice for the people of Swindon.”

Cllr James Swindlehurst, Leader of Slough Borough Council, added:

“We welcome this private investment by CityFibre into Slough to deliver a modern, fit-for-purpose digital infrastructure that will futureproof residents and businesses.

Slough Borough Council continues to work closely with the private sector to facilitate economic growth in the digital age and CityFibre’s Full Fibre network will be vital in ensuring Slough has a resilient and dynamic economy for years to come.”

In terms of local rivals for gigabit-class home broadband connectivity, most premises in both locations already have access to Virgin Media’s cable (DOCSIS) network. On top of that Openreach (BT) have also deployed some FTTP, as well as a fair amount of their inferior, but still ultrafast, hybrid fibre G.fast technology.

Meanwhile Glide and OFLN also have some FTTP deployments in Swindon, while over in Slough we note that some locations have got a similar service from Hyperoptic. Suffice to say that these are reasonably competitive markets, albeit ones with enough opportunity for an additional entrant to still upset things.

Assuming Vodafone’s related Gigafast Broadband packages do go live in these areas then local homes can expect to pay from just £28 per month for an unlimited 100Mbps (symmetric speed) service on a 24 month contract term, including free installation and a good wireless router, which rises to £55 for 900Mbps.

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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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19 Responses
  1. Avatar JamesW says:

    I’m fairly sure Slough are getting FTTP installed by OR.

    I was chatting to an OR engineer just before lockdown and he said it’s (FTTP) is being rolled out in slough, with no copper services allowed to be ordered.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I already mentioned Openreach 🙂

    2. Avatar JamesW says:

      Very true Mark.

      I meant it in the way that OR are already doing it. Surely there is better return for investment to fit areas where there is no FTTP rivals? This just looks like overbuilding to me.
      Seems like a property in London will soon be able to choose from all the different FTTP alt nets due to them over building.

      Someone will no doubt say you wont know what the return will be like and they must’ve done research etc. But with all the over building it is essentially slowing the roll out of FTTP down as areas will likely be catered for 2 or 3 etc times over before other area’s with 0 FTTP suppliers.

    3. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      The 2018 FTIR review stated that dense urban markets should be able to support 3-4 rivals in the fixed full fibre / gigabit connectivity space. You could easily argue that without operators like Cityfibre then bigger providers, like Openreach and Virgin Media, would have had very little incentive to up their own game.

    4. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      I know the reasons for it, but I do find it frustrating that some places will have OR, VM, CityFibre, and others, to choose from, while other areas only have sub-USO ADSL.

    5. Avatar A_Builder says:

      “I know the reasons for it, but I do find it frustrating that some places will have OR, VM, CityFibre, and others, to choose from, while other areas only have sub-USO ADSL.”

      Ultimately it will consolidate a bit.

      Room for 3 in urban areas. VM will expand by buying up in areas where there is OR but no VM or where VM need to move from Coax to FTTP fast. This will only start to happen when VM wholesale their network.

      I don’t think you will see OR buying up stragglers as they can build cheaper than the cost of buying up.

      One of the other bigger players will start to aggregate some of the minnows.

      Some of the minnows have already started to aggregate with each others.

      All perfectly normal in a normal functioning market with a low penetration of FTTP or any other service.

    6. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      The problem with a commercial environment where startups have the ambition of growing quickly and being bought out at a profit, is that all the companies are looking for quick and easy builds – so ignoring the expensive ADSL only areas. Once consolidations happen the purchasers will want to maximise their profits – usually by cutting their costs – so builds will stop.
      The non-superfast areas will be left to government subsidised schemes in the distant future, which I don’t believe will have the desired effect either (just as USO is proving to be ineffective).

    7. Avatar Rich says:

      And some people don’t have mains gas, or mains sewerage, and have to live with a cess pit.

      Such is life, you pays your money you takes your choice, I chose to live where I do partly because of the decent broadband, but I don’t get nice things like pretty fields to look at, just like some people in highly rural areas don’t get mains gas or sewerage, or fttp.

      There will always be a divide. Should Cityfibre not be allowed to build where they want because someone else has already built there?

    8. Avatar Gary says:

      @Rich,

      Yes, but mains gas and sewerage weren’t funded/subsidised by hundreds of millions of pounds of tax payers money like all these urban dwellers FTTC and some FTTP was under BDUK to then have it basically rendered pointless, There is the difference.

      I have a septic tank, it costs me nothing, I don’t pay charges for sewerage on my council tax, it’s not exactly a downside of rural life, Seeing zero improvement on my 1M adsl line while over 90% of the country has however is very much so.

      Sure for us the commercial overbuild of Gig services sucks, but as you say that’s their choice. You say you pays your money you takes your choice ! We didn’t choose to be cut out of the BDUK improvements.

    9. Avatar A_Builder says:

      “Yes, but mains gas and sewerage weren’t funded/subsidised by hundreds of millions of pounds of tax payers money like all these urban dwellers FTTC and some FTTP was under BDUK to then have it basically rendered pointless, There is the difference.”

      You would be wrong in thinking that mains gas and sewerage were not installed at massive public expense. They were nationalised industries. Even just before gas was (re)privatised there was a major campaign to connect semi remote properties with subsidised trenching etc

      I don’t agree that what is going on is pointless. OR and many others are doing a good slice of rural with full FTTP now. Where I do agree with you is that FTTC was pushed for too long as a solution in areas where it would never get decent coverage levels.

      The good news is that with remote headends etc the fibre to the FTTC cabinet can now be leveraged to provide FTTP as well so the investment in the FTTC fibre backhaul can be recycled for greater benefit.

      I am also very willing to criticise the fact that the 1M FTTP connections promised in the original Liv Garfield plan was cancelled by the bean counters as soon as she moved on from BT. And cancelling this had a major impact on BT’s ramp up to full fibre.

      Now it is different: FTTP is going full blast, too late, but it is going as fast as it can be put in.

    10. Avatar Rich says:

      @Gary most of the urban FTTC areas were done as part of the commercial rollout and were not publicly funded, and those that were have mostly met their uptake targets and had the subsidy repaid by BT. Conversely, most of the BTOR FTTP is in rural areas, and was publicly funded.

      On the other hand, Cityfibre’s rollout in this story is purely commercial, as is Virgin Media, the largest ultrafast provider. Why should they be restricted based on what BT have done, with or without public funds?

      BDUK has improved connections for vast swathes of rural areas, I live in Suffolk (Ipswich, currently on VM and waiting for Cityfibre to finish here) and large areas around here (a mostly rural county) have benefited from BDUK. Indeed, going by TBB’s figures your 1mbit ADSL line is one of the 0.5% – 1 in 200 – who only have less than 2m available to them, so you’ve had to go some to have it that bad, 98.7% of the UK have FTTC/P, G.Fast, or Cable.

      Nobody pays for sewerage on their council tax, it’s part of your water bill, and the rollout of sewerage and gas DEFINITELY was HIGHLY subsidised, as A_Builder says, by what were nationalised industries at the time.

  2. Avatar Granger says:

    This is great news. In the next few years the suburb where I am in Swindon I will be able to have a choice of gigabit services from Cityfibre, Openreach and Virginmedia. The latest update I had from openreach is their expansion of their FTTP network should be completed by August 2021

  3. Avatar Stew says:

    Fantastic news. We’ve been pinning our hopes on cityfibre for a while now. OR have no plans to upgrade our new build estate and an effort to get a community partnership off the ground failed when we received unrealistic quotes leaving us all on bog standard adsl since we moved in. Good news for Swindon.

  4. Avatar Optical says:

    Wish Cityfibre start breaking ground here in Bath,being bombarded with Truespeed carp!

  5. Avatar Barry says:

    Wish they’d finish Bournemouth, aka do my flat. There are old H2O network installations at both ends of my road (which I believe they own now), but nothing down it. No virgin either and it’s all flats so seems like an easy win to me

    1. Avatar Gadget says:

      That’s the problem with MDUs aka flats – wayleave from owner for access for FTTP. @Roul who is a regular poster here has had that issue in his block for quite a while, and it will affect any operator who wants to deploy, not just one.

  6. Avatar Bm says:

    They’re doing ducting for full fttp in purbrook Waterlooville according to local roadworks.org plans for next month.

  7. Avatar Gary says:

    @ A_Builder Your point about nationalised industry is entirely correct and i don’t think that it wasn’t funded as you say, That’s what I tried to qualify (maybe poorly) with
    the statement with the ‘ to then have it basically rendered pointless, There is the difference.’ at the end. As in nobody is overbuilding mains sewerage and power to compete in the market with a better system.

    I’ll concede totally pointless is wrong given the Subtended head end developments and of course all the ducting and other work pushing fibre out across the country that will be of use.

    To be blunt People spouting the ‘well you’re rural, if you choose to live in the sticks don’t expect modern services, Just infuriate me, Along with the people moaning that there’s some rural being build when XYZ city hasn’t got fibre yet.
    The attitude that being a city dweller somehow ‘entitled’ them to better than a rural area using Tax payers money /aagh. Private investment I’ll leave out of this as we’re all aware of commercial needs.

    1. Avatar Rich says:

      The BDUK process has mostly targeted rural locations (as they were not in the commercial program). You say you’re not talking about commercial investment, but you originally posted on this news article about commercial investment complaining about some city build when XYZ field hasn’t got superfast yet.

      I’m sorry if I infuriated you, conversely, people moaning that a commercial company has chosen to roll out gigabit in a city when 0.5% of houses still have under 2mbit as though they are somehow entitled to have the rest of us subsidise cables being laid to their house on the top of a mountain in rural wales 500 miles from the nearest sheep just infuriate me.

      On the other hand, I was not actually complaining about a rural build. I was here reading about a commercial urban build and others were complaining not me.

      We will never get to 100% coverage, as there will always be a crazy hermit living in a roundhouse in the peak district or on a narrowboat somewhere. 98.7% can get superfast and only 0.5% are under 2mbit, so we are definitely getting there, and progress will continue to be made, but we should not stop commercial providers rolling out in the mean time until we get broadband to every last lamppost.

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