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ISP Zen Internet Extend UK CityFibre FTTP Availability Nationwide

Monday, March 28th, 2022 (9:02 am) - Score 6,576
CF cityfibre Cab Chamber photo

Last year we reported that UK ISP Zen Internet was preparing to make their gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband packages on CityFibre’s new network available nationwide (here). A new deal has now been signed that sees Zen making an exclusive long-term volume commitment across CF’s entire network plan.

CityFibre’s £4bn investment programme has so far enabled their “full fibre” network to cover 1.5 million UK premises (here), and they currently aim to have 8 million premises “substantially completed” – across around 285 cities, towns and villages (c.30% of the UK) – by the end of 2025 (here). Once complete, this should also 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.

Until now, only CF’s oldest consumer ISP partner, Vodafone, had officially committed to achieving nationwide availability across their new network (here) – this is due to be achieved by the end of next month – and, outside that, the level of ISP support between different build locations has tended to vary.

However, Vodafone has now been joined by Zen Internet after the ISP agreed a major expansion to their strategic partnership with the operator. Initially, Zen’s service was only available to consumers on CityFibre’s networks in Newcastle, Leicester, Ipswich and Worthing. But that has since increased and their broadband packages can now be found in 31 locations on CF’s ever-expanding network.

The new deal means that Zen will continue to launch in new cities over the coming weeks, and it is expected that its services will be available to all homes across the entire CityFibre footprint by “late 2022” (last year we were given the more specific date of September 2022).

Paul Stobart, CEO of Zen, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with CityFibre on delivering full fibre broadband to even more UK homes up and down the country. We’re seeing great consumer demand and interest in our early cities and are excited to ensure more homes can access an award-winning full fibre service at what is a pivotal time for connectivity in the home. By 2030 everyone will have made the switch and we are excited about the role Zen plays as an ultrafast pioneer to be a key enabler of early adoption.

Our industry is rapidly changing as is today’s consumer who rightfully demands a reliable and speedy service. The rates in volume of data and information being shared has increased beyond all recognition and people are fundamentally reliant on good connectivity. The CityFibre rollout provides a level of healthy competition and providers like us here at Zen have a critical role to play in delivering reliable connections whilst looking after our customers really well.”

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:

“We are delighted to have had the opportunity to demonstrate the technical and commercial superiority of our Full Fibre networks to Zen and we are thrilled they have selected CityFibre as a network of choice across our nationwide rollout. Zen has proven to be an outstanding partner, and we look forward to accelerating the availability of their market-leading services to millions of homes across the UK.

We are determined to build the UK’s finest Full Fibre network, a rock-solid platform for our customers, with better products at the right economics. In doing so, we’re playing our part in helping to provide the UK with the critical digital infrastructure and competitive dynamic needed to drive improved services and prices for consumers across the country.”

We should point out that Zen and Vodafone won’t be the only ISPs to achieve nationwide availability on CityFibre’s new full fibre network. We fully expect TalkTalk to follow in the not-too-distant future and others, such as Giganet, seem to be steadily moving in a broadly similar direction.

Customers on Zen Internet typically pay from £29.99 per month for a 100Mbps package on an 18-month term with free setup, which rises to just £47.99 for their top 900Mbps package on a 24-month term. We should point out that a quirk of Ofcom’s speed code means that Zen still presents these packages with asymmetric upload speeds (rather than symmetric), but under the hood they’re still uncapped and symmetric like other CF ISPs.

The advertised upload speeds should change once Zen has enough data on real-world speeds to set the figures correctly, but for now they’re a soft-mirror for the Openreach based tiers.

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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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28 Responses
  1. occasionally factual says:

    Mark can you please clarify the meaning of
    “sees Zen making an exclusive long-term volume commitment across CF’s entire network plan.”
    That word “exclusive” indicates that Zen are ditching Openreach as a supplier. Is that correct or does exclusive have a new meaning?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      I’ve been wondering about that myself and will check. But they won’t be ditching Openreach across the UK, so if anything it’ll be specific to CityFibre’s deployment areas.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      As expected, it just means that anywhere CityFibre goes, then Zen will commit to using their lines (not Openreach’s). This is fairly normal among other ISPs too since CF’s service is often faster and cheaper, and thus more attractive, to consumers. But Openreach will still be available outside those areas.

    3. Alex A says:

      I think it means they use Cityfibre where it is available and Openreach where it isn’t.

    4. occasionally factual says:

      Thanks Mark for double checking. just wish companies would write PR blurb clearly first time round 🙂

    5. Aaron says:

      This is probably similar to how Zen uses TalkTalk LLU as a preference over Openreach equipment in the exchange end, I’m sure there is a price incentive for Zen. and just for context I am a current Zen user and have been for years, and currently using VDSL via TT LLU with them and will certainly take up either Openreach or CityFirbe with them in the future but I would prefer CityFibre with it being symmetrical

  2. Optimist says:

    Great news! CF infrastructure is being installed in my street, so competition at last to VMO2!

    1. Optical says:

      Lucky sod!Had CF working in several area’s of Bath last year & begining of this year,had hopes of them doing my road, but they completely vanished!

    2. Anthony Goodman says:

      Word of warning it took literally 7 months after the cable going down in my street before I could actually order it.

  3. Anthony Goodman says:

    Checked my Street in Newcastle which has been live since December and it still says only TalkTalk available. If the cable is laid, and service is live and active I cannot see what more needs to be done to allow them to offer it?

    1. Ben says:

      Backhaul from the CityFibre FEX to Zen’s network.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      You’d need to check with Zen on that specific area first, but there could perhaps be issues of built exclusivity. For example, several ISPs might be live in a certain location, but not all the ISPs may be able to access the same postcodes yet due to past agreements needing to run their course.

    3. Paul says:

      Anything to do with ‘CityFibre’ is turning out to be a big howling mess for consumers.

  4. Tempest3K says:

    Anyone know if/when the Talktalk/Sky agreement runs out for the York deployment and if that might be included in this at a later date?

    1. TBC says:

      I cannot go into detail, but this year should sort out a lot in York regarding ISPs amd availability etc

    2. Anthony Goodman says:

      Will Sky start offering FTTP over CityFibre? They seem to be the odd one out of the big players. As they have no direct ties to Openreach to remain exclusive to them.

    3. Yorkiebar says:

      As far as I can tell on one.network we won’t be getting any new build areas anytime soon. Only glaring omission seems to be Leman Rd / York Central. I think that might be done eventually.

    4. TBC says:

      Cityfibres network doesn’t have a big enough footprint to get somone as big as sky on board just yet.

      There would be 95% of there customers unable to get service.

      York work will be going ahead at some stage this year i recon

  5. Stephen says:

    Zen and open reach and a few other isp says we can get up to 900 we called bt up a few time 2 hours on the phone with bt saying we had a email from open reach what speeds we can order up to but bt never got back to us ? Is there a way we make a complaint against bt or is it not worth it and should I just go to zen in 2 months

    1. Anthony Goodman says:

      The price for 900mb/s on Cityfibre is almost half that of the same on Openreach
      Plus CityFibre offer 900 up, Openreach its 75mb/s up.
      Plus I suspect Openreach would likely get higher takeup so the speed shared across multiple homes will possibly be more of an issue on Openreach than CityFibre who will have lower takeup.

    2. Stephen says:

      Has ispreview done a review on the isp facto yet ? They also said I can get 900 for £45 amonth cheaper then what bt offers and what zen offers I am paying 60 a month th for the 330 and 50 up but with facto no phone line who needs a house phone nowadays

  6. Phil says:

    CityFibre FTTP Availability Nationwide are misleading by Zen – will report this to ASA.

    1. Anon says:

      In what way is this misleading?

      The press release clearly says “285 cities, towns and villages”.

  7. iDoc says:

    City fibre have been installing on our road this last week with Vodafone set to go live with them but when I rang Vodafone they are not sure if they are using open reach or cityfibres network yet? Anyway to check or I assume they’ll automatically swap over when cf is live. We have full fibre from BT and now by CF but not sure when it’ll be available. Pricing wise Vodafone are charging more for 900up100down and no phone line whereas with virgin we’re getting 1gbps up for £62 with phone (my parents want a landline)

    1. Stephen says:

      You cant compare virgin to other isp as Virgin is not every where I got offered 1000 down and 220 up from facto for £45 amonth

    2. CarlT says:

      If you can’t compare Virgin because their coverage is only 15.65 million premises passed you certainly can’t compare FACTO.

      ‘FACTCO plans to connect 15,000 premises By 2022.’

      VMO2 have the most gigabit coverage by a long way.

    3. TBC says:

      Virgin only have 1.5million FTTP homes passed if you discount there ageing DOCSIS crap.

      Absolute rip off if you play any sort of shooting games and 50 upload on a 1.1gb package is also crap.

      They are behind and they know it.

    4. CarlT says:

      Which is why they are building FTTP to all the HFC areas.

      50 up is still the best a third of the country can get.

      Just as well people don’t have to buy VMO2 products and can nearly always choose a slower but lower jitter connection. The apparently millions of pro FPS players in the country would definitely have their elite skills crushed by that extra tick of jitter.

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