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CityFibre Update – Full Fibre Plans for Glasgow, Blackpool and Cheltenham

Thursday, March 11th, 2021 (1:26 pm) - Score 3,024

CityFibre UK has today issued some important progress updates on their plans to deploy a new 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network to cover premises (homes and businesses) across the city of Glasgow (Scotland), and the towns of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire and Blackpool in Lancashire (England).

As usual all three projects form part of their £4bn investment programme (here and here), which aims to cover around 1 million premises by the end of 2021 (they’ve already done over 500,000 premises) and then 8 million across 100+ cities and towns (c.30% of the UK) – the latter target is planned to be “substantially completed” by the end of 2025.

NOTE: CityFibre is being supported by various ISPs, such as Vodafone (Gigafast Broadband), TalkTalk, Zen Internet, Giganet and others, but they aren’t all live or available in every location yet. The operator usually aims to reach 85%+ of premises in each town or city they target.

Starting with Cheltenham, the operator has revealed that they will invest £30m into the town’s deployment and construction is due to begin in April 2021 (completion is planned for the end of 2023). We know from a prior announcement that civil engineering firm Kier is expected to support this work (they’re also working with CF in Gloucester, Bath, Weston-Super-Mare and Worcester).

Neil Madle, CF City Manager for Cheltenham, said:

“The next chapter in Cheltenham’s story starts here. Our builders will soon get to work on a town-wide Full Fibre network – and we think people will be blown away by the difference it will make, both now and for generations to come. We cannot wait for residents and businesses to see what is possible with digital connectivity that propels you forward rather than holds you back.”

Separately, CityFibre has also announced that work to roll out FTTP across the Scottish city of Glasgow is finally getting started, although they haven’t said how much funding has been committed (this is odd as they almost always give such a figure), but it is expected to be “one of Europe’s largest city-wide Full Fibre rollouts.

The rollout, which has already begun in several locations south of the river Clyde, is being supported by Blantyre-based construction partner PMK Ltd. The street works firm has been chosen to lay the 1300km Full Fibre network in the south of the city and will use a range of modern network construction methods.

CityFibre will be working across several locations in the city at one time, including the west where they’re deploying from Cardonald to Govan, and in the south east of the city centre, where work is starting in the Eglinton Toll and Gorbals areas before moving to Oatlands and Langside and continuing to Rutherglen and Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire. East Renfrewshire is also part of the longer-term build plan.

Build is scheduled to begin in the north of the city later this year and the full city-wide deployment is expected to be substantially completed by 2025. A separate build programme to bring Full Fibre to sites across Renfrewshire has also been underway since summer last year.

David Cannon, CityFibre’s City Manager for Glasgow, said:

“Glasgow has always been a city of ambition and the scale of our build matches that. This is a huge project and one that signals the start of an exciting new chapter for the city. The network, once built, will serve its connectivity needs for decades to come and will power future economic growth which will be particularly important in the recovery from the pandemic. We’re thrilled to get started in the city and cannot wait to connect the first homes and businesses to Full Fibre.”

We should point out that the operator already has a Dark Fibre network present in both Glasgow and Cheltenham, which is usually used to serve local businesses and / or public sector sites. But in both cases this will also help to form the foundation for their new FTTP deployments.

In terms of gigabit-capable competition, CF’s main rival in Cheltenham will be Virgin Media, although they don’t appear to extend much into the south. Meanwhile, Gigaclear, Openreach, Glide and OFNL all have some sporadic FTTP coverage in the town. Exascale has also previously announced their intention to deploy into some areas just outside the town, even though Gigaclear already seems to have done most of that.

As for Glasgow, Virgin Media already has significant coverage across most of the city, while Openreach’s FTTP deployment has also been making strong progress. A few smaller deployments also exist via Fibre Nest (new build homes from Persimmon) and Hyperoptic (mostly MDUs).

UPDATE 2:09pm

CityFibre has just put out a third announcement, which updates on their rollout plan for the seaside town of Blackpool in Lancashire. The operator plans to invest £60m into this deployment, which will be delivered via civil engineering contractor Telent (they’re also working with CF in Chester and Preston). Work is expected to commence in April 2021, before being completed by 2025.

In terms of gigabit-capable rivals, the town is already extremely well covered by Virgin Media’s network and Openreach have a small bit of FTTP in other parts of the town too. On top of that Yayzi Broadband via the ITS Technology group are also deploying in the town and WeFibre (Telcom) have plans for the area too.

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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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9 Responses
  1. Bloke in Glasgow says:

    Been seeing a lot of CF construction going on in Glasgow recently. Especially in Cardonald where OR have their Fibre FIrst Halfway exchange. BTW ” the west where they’re deploying from Cardonald to Govan” should read the “south west”. And if you wrote “the Southside” rather than ” in the south east of the city centre” folk would think you were a proper Weegie. 😉

    CityFibre’s “dark” network will be well lit providing Glasgow City Council’s premises and schools. They have a £17M deal with the council and I assume they are building out from that spine.

    1. Mml says:

      Weren’t VirginMedia digging up the same areas – Govan and Southside – last year? They should take their fibre to the places where there’s no firbe yet.

  2. yeehaa says:

    I hope they have a lot of security to guard their equipment in places like Govanhill, Easterhouse, Shettleston… I could go on for a while!

    Jokes aside, this is an excellent development for Glasgow as well as Blackpool and Cheltenham.

  3. James says:

    I can assure you that the paths and drives in the area will never look the same again. I have see a lot of very bad civil work from CF. Good luck!

    1. Ben says:

      Interesting claim given CF subcontract out their civils. Perhaps it would be helpful if you could share which city or cities you’ve personally experienced problems with?

    2. CarlT says:

      Indeed they’ll never look the same. They’re going to leave scars in the pavements that are permanent. Without full width reinstatement no pavement ever does.

      I’ve seen civils of varying quality however the reinstatement isn’t to make the pavement look as it did before and as long as the local authority are happy that’s about it.

      Have had Virgin Media build their hybrid network then CityFibre FTTP nearby. Cold slurry seal might be done by the local authority when pavements need it but as long as the pavements are up to standard regardless of their appearance CityFibre are good.

  4. Stuart says:

    Any word on East Kilbride just south of Glasgow, Virgin have a monopoly here, would be good for the public for them to get some competition!

  5. Brian says:

    I registered an interest with HYPEROPTIC for over 4years hoping to eventually be able to have access to FTTC broadband .
    But all I got was excuses about my area “not yet ready for FTTC”
    I I wait 10 years HYPEROPTIC will still come out with the same excuse.
    Their are some parts of this country that will never be included in the FTTC conversion, especially social housing FACT.

    1. CarlT says:

      Hyperoptic only build out to apartments in certain towns and cities and social housing is as well served as private.

      Zero prejudice against it. If anything it’s better served by Hyperoptic as they make agreements with local authorities and build out.

      Also tends to be higher density.

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