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ISP Zen Internet Joins Cityfibre’s UK FTTP Broadband Network

Friday, November 20th, 2020 (7:45 am) - Score 7,464
cityfibre external wall box ftth

Cityfibre has today announced that popular UK broadband provider Zen Internet has just become the latest ISP to join their growing national Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network, complementing others like TalkTalk and Vodafone. Until now Zen has been focused on selling Openreach’s products to homes.

As most people know Cityfibre has a major £4bn investment programme (here and here), which currently aims to cover around 1 million premises by the end of 2021 with their gigabit-capable “full fibre” network 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.

The new network has already won significant ISP (wholesale) support from major residential focused providers like Vodafone and TalkTalk, as well as the odd smaller operator like Giganet. On top of that there’s also a slew of ISPs that sell their business connectivity solutions, but those represent a different side of the market.

Attracting support from established ISPs is often a key element of any alternative network’s future success, especially those with large-scale ambitions, and to that end it’s good to see that one of the market’s most reputable providers, Zen Internet, has today become the latest addition to Cityfibre’s platform. Zen will obviously continue to sell Openreach based products too (FTTC, FTTP, G.fast, Ethernet etc.), but they’re now diversifying.

The first locations set to enjoy access to Zen’s “competitively priced” 1Gbps services via Cityfibre will be Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Worthing, where the first customers are expected to go live in January 2021. Ipswich and Leicester will follow later in 2021 with further locations to be announced in due course.

Paul Stobart, CEO of Zen, said:

“Full fibre is set to be the backbone of the UK’s connectivity for years to come, so we’re excited to be able to offer a market-leading gigabit speed service to tens of thousands of new broadband customers over CityFibre’s network. We will also be offering this service through our network of 700 channel partners many of whom are operating in these cities, so they too can make the most of FTTP and the move to ultrafast.

More urgently, UK consumers need a service provider they can trust that offers a reliable and customer-first approach, and we’ve been delivering that for two and a half decades now, introducing industry-first initiatives such as our lifetime price guarantee. We’re eager to show what we can do for customers in these initial cities in a world where households are more dependent than ever before on broadband that connects them to the outside world – including school, work, family and friends. We look forward to further expansion as the partnership develops.”

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Zen onto our networks, and to support their exciting Gigabit-speed home broadband service. Their strong reputation and award-winning services make them a perfect partner and we look forward to helping even more homes and businesses to take advantage of the huge benefits that full fibre has to offer.

With build or mobilisation already underway across 67 towns and cities, and plans to reach up to 8 million premises, CityFibre is fast creating a nationwide world-class wholesale full fibre platform for our current and future customers. In doing so, we are also playing our part in providing the UK with the digital infrastructure needed to support its economic recovery and long-term success.”

We should add that the new agreement will, alongside residential packages, also see Zen work with Cityfibre to develop a new wholesale business service across their network footprint, which we imagine is something that Zen would then be able to sell on to their various partners (inc. some other ISPs) in the industry.

At this point it’s worth highlighting just how much of a major change this will be for Zen. Adapting to a completely new infrastructure provider requires an awful lot of time and money in order to establish the necessary systems and processes. On the flip side it means that consumers covered by Cityfibre should soon gain access to an ISP that tends to have a much better reputation for service quality than the bigger alternatives.

We look forward to seeing what their first broadband packages will look like and how they’ll compare with those from Vodafone etc.

Leave a Comment
22 Responses
  1. Meadmodj says:

    Excellent just what is needed. Zen get an increased coverage of FTTP (already have agreement with other Altnets). Vodafone big enough to look after themselves. Likely to upset TT though.

    1. Craig says:

      Nah, can’t see them getting anywhere near 4 million plus customers like TalkTalk have.

    2. Craig says:

      Also Zen are far from perfect. Neighbour was getting the well publicised slow single thread speeds on Zen FTTC a year or two ago, and they refused to do anything about it at the time. She reluctantly moved to TalkTalk FTTC and just like magic, she was getting full line speeds again. She was shocked that she was getting a better performing line on a bargain basement service than a so called “niche” isp. So folks, paying more isn’t guaranteed to give you a better service….

    3. Meadmodj says:

      I was more referring to competition and ISPs that would not simply provide a generic one size fits all and that if ZEN go there like on OFNL others may follow. Talk Talk may step up but as we move to FTTP the access will be less of an an issue and more the ISPs service/cost.

      Comparisons on FTTC are not always valid due to line.

    4. Name says:

      Yeah Craig, I believe you. I had the same with TalkTalk and then I reluctantly moved to Zen FTTC and just like magic, I’ve got full line speeds again. I was shocked that I’m getting a better performing line on a bargain basement service than a so called “niche” isp. So folks, paying less isn’t guaranteed to give you a better service….

    5. Craig says:

      Where are these single thread speed issues affecting users en-masse on TalkTalk then? Prove it. No, you can’t. Yet every man & his dog on thinkbroadband.com knows the huge issues many Zen users were/are having with single thread speeds. Look at the Zen section on TBB if you don’t believe me.

      Next time, provide some evidence before doing a copy/paste. It will make you look less silly.

    6. Matt says:

      @Craig, Just because you say “Prove it. No, you can’t.” doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

      It was well known at the time that TT did have single thread issues and overall “congestion” at times of day due to issues with several routers in their network that took many months to resolve.

      This affected both retail and wholesale customers when a session went over that path. First was resolved with a configuration change in their network and the second, after 8 months, was resolved with a switch change.

      You can of course find evidence of this on the same forum you have quoted from. You just clearly didn’t look hard enough.

      Every network will have issues, some longer than others. Being on the TTB end of issues, that went on far longer and was far more impacting than what has been reported of Zen.

  2. Jason Smith says:

    Excellent news, looking forward to cityfibre starting the stoke on trent install. Zen & Vodafone are such great options! I find vodafone’s backbone network very good with low 12ms vdsl latency to teeside university ( for my studies and 65ms to my girlfriend’s flat in Ukraine! This is important for me when watching TV on the nowtv stick while visiting her in Ukraine (VPN’nd using a gli.net travel router & my linksys router).

    1. Jason Smith says:

      Netflix test on Fast.com using vodafone FTTC broadband
      Unloaded 7ms
      Loaded 19ms

      Anyone got any results for Zen internet on fast.com?

    2. SymetricalAccess says:

      Not on Zen but you might want to stay away from BT!

      Unloaded 11ms
      Loaded 123ms


      I don’t know what they are playing at over there but it’s awfull trying to game on this connection now. Especially when someone is streaming video.

      I’ve got everything crossed that the nearby cityfibre rollout covers us and this news Zen are onboard is very welcome. The single thread performace issue is a concern though.

  3. Davros says:

    It’s on Sky news right now. Mr Tang is talking.

  4. Optical says:

    Now we just need Sky now to join if they arn’t already on the bandwagon…

    1. DaveF says:

      Sky do / did sell broadband over cityfibre here in York as a trial. They backed off after about 18 months and wouldn’t sell any new packages. Next door neighbor had it for a year or two and they politely asked her to move to TT.

  5. Matthew says:

    This is good news i wonder if Vodafone still have an exclusivity agreement on the first cities announced or if Zen choose not to fully support entire network at launch as Stirling for instance is basically a dominant area for CityFbire and Aberdeen is far better on Cityfibre then openreach.

    Very good news though to see the UK could easily find it’s self with a proper major third infrastructure supplier within next 5 years will need more investment of course.

    1. James™ says:

      If only City Fibre would come and overlap Virgin Media in Livingston would be great as Openreach isn’t interested currently.

    2. ToneDeaf says:

      Agreed – it’s the same in Tannochside which is a native United Artists cable rollout area. Openreach show no interest at the moment so the choice is either slow BT ADSL or overpriced Virgin Media. VM know this and are therefore unsympathetic in offering new deals to existing customers.

  6. Neil David says:

    Great news, Zen are far and away the best ISP I have ever been with and would move back to them in a heartbeat as soon as they offer FTTP to my home

  7. Tuetru says:

    I’m stuck with the atrocious Virgin Media as my ISP, cannot get anything better currently as I require fast speeds. HELP ! Gloucester

  8. AdamD says:

    Think I’ll wait for Vodafone, they’re going to offer 900/900, whereas Zen are only offering 900/100.
    It’s currently available at my post code in Worthing, but it’s quite expensive (69.95 a month for 900/100).
    I think Vodafone charge around £50 for 900/900

    1. Ben says:

      Are Zen only offering 900/100 over CityFibre? I know they’re limited to that via Openreach (which also covers Worthing) but I was hoping for better via CityFibre.

    2. Dave says:

      They are offering 900/900.

      “It will be amongst the fastest broadband services available to any home in the UK, providing customers with 1Gbps of bandwidth when both downloading and uploading.”


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