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CityFibre Hits Target of 1 Million UK FTTP Broadband Premises

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021 (8:48 am) - Score 4,008

CityFibre, which is investing £4bn to cover 8 million UK premises with their gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network by around the end of 2025, has today announced the successful completion of their first target by extending the network to cover 1 million homes and businesses before the end of 2021.

The operator – supported by investment from the West Street Infrastructure Fund (Goldman Sachs), Antin Infrastructure Fund, Interogo Holdings and Mubadala – has been building Dark Fibre style networks to serve businesses and the public sector for many years. But all of that started to change in 2018 when they decided to embark on a major network expansion that would reach millions of homes.

NOTE: Cityfibre is supported by various ISPs, such as Vodafone (Gigafast Broadband), TalkTalk (Future Fibre), Zen Internet, Giganet and others, but they aren’t all live or available in every location.. yet.

As part of that, CityFibre are investing £4bn to cover 1 million UK premises with their full fibre network by the end of 2021 and then 8 million are expected to be “substantially completed” across 285 cities, towns and villages – c.30% of the UK – by the end of 2025 (here). This will potentially also cover 800,000 businesses, 400,000 public sector sites and 250,000 5G access points.

Today’s news means that their first target has been achieved, and CityFibre is thus well on its way to establishing itself as the UK’s third-largest FTTP broadband operator after Openreach (BT) and Virgin Media (VMO2). As of today, they have 26 construction companies mobilised and in-build across over 60 UK towns and cities. Indeed, they’re currently the largest provider of Full Fibre lines in more than 25 of those locations.

By the end of 2022, it plans to have builds underway across more than 150 cities, towns and villages, before expanding to 285 by 2025. Homes served by this network can now place an order with one of 30 of its consumer ISP partners and receive Gigabit-capable, symmetrical services in as little as 5 working days. It has also secured long-term commitments from larger ISP partners Vodafone, TalkTalk and Zen Internet.

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:

“This is a significant milestone on our path to reaching 8 million premises and we are already the largest provider of Full Fibre lines in more than 25 towns and cities. The quality of the network we are building has already attracted some of the country’s biggest ISPs while we are also seeing the emergence of new and exciting brands offering even more options for consumers.

With a million homes now able to access our Full Fibre connectivity and more added every day, we are focused on supporting our consumer ISP partners to drive service take-up. We look forward to collaborating with our partners in the coming months to design compelling new packages and initiatives, and to continue raising awareness of the benefits of Full Fibre.”

Julia Lopez, Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, saying:

“A huge congratulations to everyone at CityFibre for their efforts to reach this impressive milestone in our national mission to level up the UK with much faster broadband.

In government we are driving competition and speeding up rollout. Our £5 billion Project Gigabit will help providers like CityFibre bring the incredible benefits of next-generation connectivity to people in hard-to-reach areas.”

Admittedly CityFibre’s gigabit rollout plan is still significantly smaller than that of Openreach’s (25 million FTTP premises by Dec 2026) and Virgin Media (potentially matching OR by 2028), but equally the extra competition that they’ve helped to bring into the UK market is one part of the reason why both Openreach and VMO2 have felt it necessary to respond with bigger builds of their own.

On top of that the operator has also expressed a desire to compete for rural deployment contracts under the UK Government’s new £5bn Project Gigabit programme, which is an area that they’ve already trialled (here). In theory, successful contract wins under Project Gigabit could see their future network coverage expand beyond the current target, and possibly reaching up to 9+ million premises. But only time will tell.

We also have to credit CityFibre for highlighting that the 1 million premises announced today are all reflective of properties in a Ready For Service (RFS) state, which means that customers should be able to place an order for a live service. By comparison, some providers still cheekily prefer to include passed, but not yet live, premises in their publicly stated coverage figures.

Finally, we note that the operator’s coverage had previously reached 500,000 premises at the start of this year, which suggests that their pace of build has ramped-up sharply from a monthly rate of 24,000 premises passed to around 42,000 premises passed. CityFibre has said that they expect to continue ramping-up in order to meet their next target.

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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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27 Responses
  1. Meadmodj says:

    They must be close to going live in Crawley (Langley Green, Ifield and Gossops Green)

    The important issue for them will not be coverage but take up against VM with no current plans from OR.

    1. Rob says:

      They are now also moving steadily into the east of Horsham – or at least the roadwork plans are. I’m not sure what the usual lag time is between street works being completed and the service being offered…? No VM in Horsham either.

    2. Meadmodj says:

      Cityfibre have previously been doing the Local Government buildings contract so are already present. No VM competition but FW appear to have already creamed off those initially wanting faster speeds in a lot of Horsham (mostly via OR poles) and OR are also in progress.

      City Fibre in Langley Green (Crawley) civils started in January but not aware that anyone is live yet. Some homes missed though, no doubt purposely but some appear to be a mistake (no pole or toby).

      If they do move into Horsham as originally planned it may be another bun fight like Worthing. There, Cityfibre included the use of OR poles and even installed new ones of their own. Some of these new Cityfibre poles with shiny steps appear dormant with no evidence of microduct/ASN.

      Resources will no doubt be diverted to priorities as providers increase their programmes.

    3. Rob says:

      Unfortunately FW have not done our street of 24 houses as we have no poles, only ducts. HeyB have now lost their sense of humor when responding to the emails I send every few months asking them if they will build here. Guess will just have to wait to see if Cityfibre/OR also skip us…

    4. Rob says:

      Thanks for the info btw!

    5. Sam says:

      I live in LG in Crawley – They are in full working mode right now! Ripping up pavements and everything to deploy.

  2. chris conder says:

    fantastic news. gotta love the altnets.

    1. anonymous says:

      The idea of cuddly altnets really doesn’t apply to CityFibre. Should be approached with the same attitude as if someone like Vodafone, Verizon or AT&T were building. They’re an alternative network in that they’re not the incumbent but certainly don’t have to love them – they’re a pretty big company now backed by investors whose sole aim is to make money.

      There’s nothing wrong with this at all, but I’d group them in with BT and VM. They aren’t in the game to help build gigabit Britain, they’re in it to provide their investors a return on investment.

  3. Jason says:

    Would never trust these organisations , unethical owners ! At least the bug two are trusted well known brands who have proper values

  4. 186k says:

    Do we know how many of those one million premises actually take a service from one of CityFibre’s 30 partners?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      No, but then such a figure right now wouldn’t be of much use, as take-up is a dynamically scaled measurement that gets suppressed during a rapid build phase. Instead, we’d need to look at only the areas where their FTTP has been present for c.2 years or more (a comparatively small number of premises).

      This is because you have to allow time for organic adoption to grow and existing contracts to end, so consumers can switch.

  5. Chris S says:

    We’re still waiting for an alternative to TalkTalk (now out of contract after 18 months) in certain CityFibre areas.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      My understanding is that you won’t have very long to wait on that front. We’re expecting some of those long-term providers to become available right across CF’s network, not only in just a few specific areas.

  6. Duncan says:

    Fantastic news! I just wish we had a more defined timeline of where they are building next and over the next few months into the new year. Have they started any phase 2 areas yet?

    I have no idea who to go with now. Openreach are on their way and Cityfibre is also potentially, although I know its not guaranteed they will cover your actual address. Don’t I know what that’s like with VM!

    Maybe it’s easier to go with whoever turns up first. However there are more provider options with Openreach. Tough call.

  7. Anthony Goodman says:

    I wish they’d get their fingers out in Newcastle. Every week one-Network has them coming back to do the exact same streets over and over again for months on end. They laid the cables in my street in May and that was after they had done other areas before mine but still the only section live is Kenton/Gosforth area that they activated over a year ago. Three times Zen have given me a start date from them only for it to go by the wayside. The post from people on forums was, they came to your street laid the cables and three months later they they were live. But not for Newcastle…

    1. ianh says:

      My guess is they are building the backhaul at the same time, so it should get quicker as the first areas go live.
      I too am in Newcastle and watching them cable the streets close to mine, and repeatedly coming back to make good. Seems to be different teams as well depending on the dig type (traditional/narrow) and then for the cabinets.
      They’ll get here eventually. My street shows we are going to be served by openreach ducts that i believe haven’t been touched in 30 years, so that will be fun for them!
      No virgin or BT FTTP for me so i’ll plod along for now!

    2. Jason says:

      How do you know that they will use bt ducts?

  8. Darc says:

    It would be nice to see them extend their coverage to most of the UK e.g. 90+%.

    While I can understand why a company only chooses the most profitable markets, the problem is that large part of the UK could end up with only 1 provider e.g. OpenReach. Not that I have any issues with OpenReach/BT as their internet connection has been great.

    It would be great to see a second or third nationwide provider appear, but the more companies that only cherry pick the best city’s and so no further, the less likely this is to occur.

    1. occasionally factual says:

      Given the UK has 28m premises and Ciyfibre’s ambition is to reach 8m of those, it shows under 30% penetration of the total available market. It would take a lot for them to change tack to reach out to 90% or higher.

    2. anonymous says:

      VMO2 are apparently going for 75%. Don’t think the other 25% could realistically support multiple networks. Expect to see VMO2 make acquisitions on their way to their target for this reason. Certainly some of the 75% couldn’t support 3.

  9. Alex says:

    Hooray for Goldman Sachs and the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund!

  10. anonymous says:

    If you’re curious about where CityFibre are going next you can do a lot worse than checking out the locations they’re hiring Fibre Network Planners and Build Assurance Engineers via https://careers.smartrecruiters.com/CityFibre

    A few unannounced places they’re hiring planners for.

    1. Aictos says:

      Thanks for that, I see they’re recruiting for a Build Assurance Engineer for Luton so that is a good sign.

      As will provide competition to VMO2 who are the only FTTP operator in the area.

  11. Sam Perry says:

    Would be nice to see them in Midhurst

    1. Meadmodj says:

      Not currently on their plan despite all the references to Cityfibre across West Sussex and Council web sites saying services will start to become available from 2019.

      It is my understanding Cityfibre are present in Midhurst for public buildings but regarding consumer FTTP rollout its currently on OR plans only.

  12. Calpin says:

    Great news this, great company to work for, to answer people questioning if we are passionate about upgrading this country.

    Yes we have big investors to pay back but this company is full of passionate dedicated people wanting to build up our future.

    Greg mesch is incredibly passionate about this and it flows through the company.

    More ISPs are being onboarded month by month so hopefully i dont need to go with talktalk either when my MDU gets built.

    Forced OR and VM to react as they realise they are in trouble.

    1. Oggy says:

      Are they passionate?

      I don’t think you’ve mentioned is they are?

      Passing 1m homes so far is a decent total but to try and claim they “forced” OR and VM to do anything is risible.

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