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Cityfibre Hand Key UK Gigabit Fibre Rollout Deal to Bechtel UPDATE

Monday, September 21st, 2020 (12:34 pm) - Score 1,848
cityfibre_street_works_engineer_fttp

Network builder Cityfibre, which has a £4bn ambition to cover 8 million UK premises with their new 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP network over the next few years, has moved to ramp-up their deployment by handing a key contract to global civil engineering firm Bechtel.

At present the operator’s £4bn investment plan (here) initially 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 being supported by their residential ISP partners, such as Vodafone and TalkTalk.

Cityfibre tends to use a mix of different contractors, often including local street works companies, in the areas they’ve targeted. So far around half of the 62 locations that have already been announced have had a contractor appointed. Nevertheless, they’ll need to build a lot faster than they have been in order to achieve their goals, and that desire for a “major acceleration” in the deployment of “full fibre” has given rise to today’s news.

Essentially Bechtel is being brought in to help manage and support Cityfibre’s various deployments. The operator expects to award a raft of additional contracts over the coming weeks under their new Accelerated Tenders Award Programme, which all together are said to be worth £1.5bn. Apparently this will reflect contracts for 29 of the towns and cities that have already been announced, albeit where a contractor has yet to be chosen.

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:

“The demand for world-class digital infrastructure deployments from the Government, Ofcom and crucially our current and prospective customers, is increasing by the day. Bechtel’s expertise in the delivery of national infrastructure projects will complement our existing teams and ensure we can rapidly increase the number of parallel build projects, while still delivering the high quality of network demanded by our customers and theirs.

Delivering full fibre nationwide by 2025 is a critical target and a huge undertaking. We are determined to be a major contributor to this target. This landmark partnership with Bechtel is another important demonstration of how CityFibre is doing everything to ensure delivery and maximise our contribution while helping to ensure a healthy and competitive digital infrastructure market.”

Bechtel is an interesting pick since they’re not a name that we’ve often seen being associated with UK fibre deployments, although they did oversee several large metro fibre and FTTP rollouts for AT&T, Verizon, XO and Google Fiber in the US and the Viatel Cerce Pan-European Network.

Meanwhile, in the UK, they’re probably better known for their work on major construction contracts including the Channel Tunnel and High Speed 1.

John Williams, Bechtel’s UK Infrastructure MD, said:

“We are excited to partner with CityFibre to help make real their ambition to transform digital infrastructure across the UK. We will be bringing our skills in rapid mobilisation and large-scale infrastructure delivery to the team. Our agreement with CityFibre is part of a deliberate strategy to diversify and align our UK business with the emerging growth sectors of the economy.

The first wave of construction contract awards under CityFibre’s Accelerated Tenders Award Programme are expected in the coming weeks. The new projects will create thousands of jobs across CityFibre’s construction partners. By the end of 2021, it is anticipated that network construction will be underway in more than 100 towns and cities across the UK.”

Today’s deal is a significant development for Cityfibre and they plan to begin on-boarding Bechtel’s teams immediately, fully integrating them within their existing organisational structure. Apparently “Bechtel’s expertise will be harnessed to help reach optimal productivity in each location in the shortest possible time,” while deploying at scale.

The first wave of construction contracts awarded under Cityfibre’s new Accelerated Tenders Award Programme are expected in the “coming weeks,” which should create thousands of new jobs across their various construction partners. Back in June 2020 the operator said that, over the next 3 years, they’d create around 10,000 new jobs (mostly fibre engineers) to support their plans (here).

UPDATE 2:03pm

The wording in Cityfibre’s press release has caused a bit of confusion and we’ve now corrected our article. The £1.5 billion is the total bundle of contract awards that Cityfibre are making to construction companies in the coming weeks via their Accelerated Tenders Award Programme (i.e. it’s not all going to Bechtel). Bechtel is being contracted to support the operator with their scaling efforts, providing people and expertise to aid acceleration and delivery (not outsourcing).

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar j karna says:

    Just shows that this country has no companies to handle large infrastructure projects and
    has to turn to an American company.Welcome to the third-world.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Various major infrastructure firms exist in the UK and some of those do fibre, but they can’t accommodate every major project and some of them are also network operators (e.g. Openreach). As a result the rapid increase in FTTP over the past two years requires some adaptation and new training in order to keep pace.

    2. Avatar Barney says:

      I don’t think you really know what you are talking about. Many of the infrastructure consultancies in the UK like Atkins, WSP, AECOM, Jacobs are American (or Canadian) companies but that does not mean that they do not have roots in the UK – like Babtie, Faber Maunsell, Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick etc – but they have thousands of British staff working across the country. The only big UK based consultancies left seem to be Arup and Mott MacDonald – both Partnerships. All I assume Bechtel are doing is the Programme Management, and subbing everything out – to make CityFibre as lean an organisation as possible.

    3. Avatar A_Builder says:

      “ All I assume Bechtel are doing is the Programme Management”

      I would guess that was correct. Maybe a bit boarder than that but that is the essence of it.

      Knowing a few people at Bechtel I’d be amazed if they wanted to get involved in street/highway works!

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