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CityFibre Tops 1.5 Million UK FTTP Broadband Premises Passed

Monday, March 21st, 2022 (7:29 am) - Score 5,568
cityfibre wall box fttp broadband

Alternative network provider CityFibre has made a second big announcement, which reveals that their gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network has seen its coverage reach 1.5 million premises passed (up from 1 million in November 2021) across 60 of their initial UK cities and towns.

The operator is currently deep into their £4bn network build, which aims to have 8 million premises “substantially completed” – across over 285 cities, towns and villages (c.30% of the UK) – by the end of 2025 (here). The new network is also expected, once complete, to cover 800,000 businesses, 400,000 public sector sites and 250,000 5G access points.

NOTE: Cityfibre is being harnessed by lots of ISPs, such as Vodafone (Gigafast Broadband), TalkTalk (Future Fibre), Zen Internet, Giganet and 30 more.

By the end of 2022, CityFibre plans to have builds underway across more than 150 cities, towns and villages, before expanding to over 285 by 2025. Homes served by this network can typically place an order with one of over 30 retail ISP partners and receive gigabit-capable, symmetrical services in as little as 5 working days.

Now, to their credit, the operator does respond to earlier concerns by clarifying that today’s figure of 1.5 million premises passed does NOT reflect those that are truly Ready For Service (RFS). This is because, while technically completed, they don’t all have an associated retail ISP assigned yet (i.e. consumers can’t order a live service) – we’ve explained all this before (here).

The figure for RFS premises is also given and comes in much lower at 1.3 million premises passed, which is still very impressive and shows they’re ramping-up nicely. We have to credit CityFibre here for making a clear distinction between the figures, which is something that other network builders have yet to do.

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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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26 Responses
  1. Rich says:

    I’ve been tracking their progress towards me here: https://bidb.uk/

    It’s somewhat frustrating seeing constant adverts saying “, you can have full fibre!”, both in real life and on facebook etc, when it still hasn’t reached me, but their roadworks seem to be getting close!

    I’m aware they are using GPON rather than XSGPON or similar, and had previously seen that they were using 1:8 split ratios, but it seems that now they advertise 1:32 – https://cdn.cityfibre.com/Partner-page/Downloads/CF-FTTH-Local.pdf .

    This is a shame, and seems a big split ratio for the upstream especially.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Interesting, I’ve not seen that document before, but I’m drawn to the figure for CIR, which I assume is their Committed Information Rate (usually means the guaranteed bandwidth), which on a 1Gbps “symmetrical” service is just 70Mbps down and 35Mbps up. I think this underlines the issue with advertising a 1Gbps GPON solution as symmetric, but I doubt the ASA will be too interested until it shows up as an issue on the consumer side.

    2. NE555 says:

      > I am going to avoid it for a few years and use an alternative.

      What alternative is that then? If your only alternative is VM you’re likely to get much better service on Cityfibre: although VM may get less congested as people move away to Cityfibre, you’re still on a 50M upload cap.

      Will the Cityfibre uplinks become saturated if they have too many people all taking 900/900 services on the same splitter? Eventually, perhaps. At that point they’ll have two choices: either upgrade to XGS-PON, or be honest about their bandwidth and cap the upload speeds.

      But in the mean time, you may as well enjoy the cheap and plentiful bandwidth. You should also remember that the vast majority of customers will take the cheapest option, not the fastest. Whilst that technically could mean 32 users all on 100/100 on the same PON, in practice the chances of all of them uploading at 100Mbps simultaneously are vanishingly small.

    3. Anon says:

      @anon

      Residential customers don’t contract directly with CityFibre it’s a wholesale network at layer 2 network and has no visibility of what/where/how you are downloading anything.
      You are looking at the wrong terms and conditions and you need to look at the terms for your actual supplier, Vodafone, TalkTalk, Zen, etc etc etc. who own your actual service that runs over the CF network.

      There are some existing business services at an IP level from the Entrant acquisition but you have grasped totally the wrong end of the stick regards how CityFibre operate for these residential roll-outs.

    4. Anon says:

      @rich

      Regards split ratios, that’s the fibre split and assumes that _every_ premise orders a CityFibre product. The reality is you will be well below 1:32 on most real world scenarios.

      The important thing is what speeds you actually achieve which is why the legislation is the way it is and the ISPs, such as Vodafone, have to reflect that. I’m pretty sure that VF will be banging on CF door if they were going to get problems from the ASA due to slow speeds as they are clearly using CF heavily to boost their win of customers from the likes of BT and Sky.

    5. CarlT says:

      It’s not a big ratio it’s perfectly standard.

      Customer experience gets degraded XGSPON can be overlaid.

      It will pretty much never be degraded significantly but the options are there.

    6. Rich says:

      I didn’t say 32:1 was a bad ratio, just that I’d previously seen them say they used 8:1.

      I’ll still be all over it the second it arrives, I’m about 99% sure BTOR FTTP is worse than 32:1 anyway (64:1?).

      Would love to dump vermin.

    7. Zak says:

      How much work is it to upgrade from GPON to XGS-PON?

    8. Anon says:

      1:32 split is very common in the UK on GPON. In some parts of the world they push it to 1:64 or 1:128 though you hit challenges with distance then so tends to be in areas of dense housing. I think Openreach use 1:32 as do quite a few other Altnets.

      If you build with two levels of splitter e.g. 1:4 then 1:8 you have an upgrade path on GPON as usage goes up, change the 1:4 for a 1:2 and split that PON into two. Moving to XGS-PON is the other option. 25G and 50G PON are being worked on too, so reduce split ratio or put in faster kit will be the theme for increasing capacity with PON for quite some time.

      1:64 or 1:128 seem to be the split ratios that get used for XGS-PON, again higher the split the lower distances that can be supported.

      XGS-PON uses different frequencies so can run on the same fibre as GPON. An upgrade normally means new ONTs for customers and XGS equipment in the exchange.

    9. Bob says:

      @rich

      Thanks for thr tip off about https://bidb.uk/

      Hadn’t come across it before.

      Has there ever been an article about it on this site? Should be!

      It gives me far more info for my local area than I’ve ever gleaned from years of scouring roadworks.org / one.network.

    10. Quark999 says:

      Giganet have a “Fair & Acceptable Usage Policy”, and a rather woolly paragraph 6.2:
      “Regardless of which type of service you purchase from us, you must not make excessive use of our Service by, for example, sending or receiving large volumes of email or excessively large email attachments, downloading large volumes of data including video, TV and/or carry out video streaming, where doing so will place unusual burdens on our network, detrimentally affect other customers usage of our Network and/or which will result in our network being degraded. If your use of our Service is excessive that results in any of these occurring as determined by us, we may notify you of the excessive use and ask you to reduce your usage.”

      Nothing in there about downloading “the same file”, and it seems to be more of a general get-out clause and therefore probably even unenforcable. They specifically state that their ethernet packages are truly unlimited, so why say that at all – either you’re unlimited or you’re not. WTH is an “excessive burden”, especially in regards to “large e-mail attachments”?!

    11. CarlT says:

      Openreach build to 30:1 with 2 spares for future usage / fault fixing.

      From experience in an area that was actually built to 32:1, in error, where everyone was using FTTP there were only a couple of hundred Mbps being used for any length of time even at peak periods.

      Ratios really don’t matter. As long as the bandwidth doesn’t saturate for any length of time whether the ratio is 128:1 or 4:1 it’s all good.

    12. CarlT says:

      The issue of the FUP on ‘CityFibre’ has hopefully been answered ‘Damien’, CF don’t have one, one of their customers, that also purchase from BT Group, do. This is nothing to do with CityFibre.

      Quark999 – The Ethernet services will be the more expensive business services. The commodity residential and business broadband will be subject to the FUP. It does seem strange however perhaps Giganet don’t yet have the scale to soak up extremely heavy users of broadband so are concerned. Even more strange given they’re hardly a budget provider – they’re at the higher end of BT Wholesale pricing.

      Zak – there is equipment that will deliver XGSPON and GPON with the same physical port. If that kit isn’t present additional line cards, pluggable modules and possibly chassis. In some cases the equipment holds fewer XGSPON ports per card than GPON so more line cards and in turn chassis will be required due to that, not just to provide XGSPON and GPON at the same time.

    13. CarlT says:

      Heh. ‘WTH is an “excessive burden”, especially in regards to “large e-mail attachments”?!’

      Someone copy/pasted bits of their FUP from elsewhere I suspect. A *long* time ago you could choke an email server with large attachments. For a long time now the volume of emails rather than the individual email sizes are far more of an issue.

      It does strike me as completely unenforceable, and with their pricing I’d simply go elsewhere. Unlimited from other alternative ISPs is available.

    14. Jazzy says:

      even when it does (like in Newcastle) it’s up to a year before they complete their loop and make it live – we are still waiting

      I have eventually renewed with Sky for their FTTP 500mb service

    15. CarlT says:

      Anon – as Damien you claimed a leased line, wrote about it in exactly the same terms as above, you’re fixated with it, commented on what you thought was CityFibre’s FUP and are the only person to have done so.

      I suppose this makes a change from using the name ‘Mary’ as you tried for a bit but it is really quite obvious. Mary and her leased line that’s reassuringly expensive disappear and Damien arrives. Damien and his reassuringly expensive leased line alongside bragging about bandwidth usage disappear after being called out and Anon arrives. Anon and his reassuringly expensive leased line written in terms nearly word for word Damien uses arrives.

      I can’t speak for you but I have both short and long term memories and recognise patterns, it is kinda required for the day job.

      You’ve been doing this for 20 years now. Isn’t it getting just a tad old?

    16. Quark999 says:

      No one will probably go back and read this, but Giganet have come back to me and have said they’re updating their FUP. I think someone just left something ancient in there – still not a great sign for their contracts…

  2. Anon says:

    CityFibre offer local and national handoffs to ISPs as detailed at https://cityfibre.com/partners/products/broadband/consumer-ftth

    For a new area the ISPs taking local need to build their links to CityFibre’s exchange(s) and for National CityFibre are still rolling out their national network. These mean there can be a lag between homes being ready and an ISP being ready to offer service.

  3. Muhammad Javed Aslam says:

    I have recently left PTCL Pakistan where I was the program head of a similar project of providing Fiber to the home connectivity for 1.5 Million houses.In 2021 we extended 200 K home passes. In Pakistani environment of unplanned civic expansions and due to multiple authorities it is really a very tough project.Especially digging, RoWs and EHS challenges make this project very tough. I salute to the project team at UK for accepting the challenge and effectively delivering this FTTP Project.

  4. Phil says:

    Are FTTC are the same way as 1:32 split is very common in the UK?

    1. CarlT says:

      Completely different. Each FTTC line has 1:1 back to the cabinet then gets placed onto a 1:1 link back to the OLT. The actual contention ratio doesn’t matter, Openreach don’t care about that only how much traffic is flowing.

      They only care on FTTP due to power budgets.

    2. Marek says:

      No it doesn’t? For FTTC you get seperate lines up to customer, speed may change depending on lenght of cable, interference. There is no splitting but uplink to other part of networks is still oversubscribed.

  5. Zak says:

    @CarlT

    Thanks for the info. So once the hard work of getting the fibre line to the house is done, upgrading to XGS-PON is relatively straightforward? It’s just a matter of upgrading physical kit on both ends?

    1. CarlT says:

      Exactly, Zak. As I mentioned there are modules that can do both XGSPON and GPON simultaneously so sometimes only need to upgrade the ONT at the customer end.

  6. Bob says:

    Some activity by City Fibre in Sudbury Suffolk, No idea as to what it about .

  7. Bob says:

    Ok the City Fibre Activity in Sudbury appear to be down to

    https://www.mlltelecom.com/mll-telecom-and-cityfibre-set-to-transform-suffolk/

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