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Confusion as CityFibre Says Four Story Building Too Tall for FTTP UPDATE

Thursday, Oct 20th, 2022 (9:52 am) - Score 10,536

Residents of a block of flats in Edinburgh (Scotland) – called ‘Tytler Court‘ – have been left confused after Cityfibre, which had just completed the build of a new 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network in the area, told them that they could not serve the building because it was “too tall“.. at just four-stories high.

Cityfibre began their £100m project to rollout a new full fibre broadband network across the city of Edinburgh a few years ago, and they’ve since expanded to cover around half of the city, albeit mostly in the suburbs. But they are now moving slowly into the city centre and coastal area, and the work at Tytler Court is fairly close to all that. Once fully completed, the operator’s fibre network in the city is expected to be 2100km long.

NOTE: Cityfibre are investing £5bn+ to cover up to 8 million premises – across c. 285 cities, towns and villages (c.30% of the UK) – by the end of 2025 (here). The operator has already covered 2 million UK premises, with 1.8m Ready For Service (RFS) via supporting ISPs (here).

At this point it’s worth noting that network operators often run into problems with serving large residential buildings (MDU – Multi-Dwelling Units), albeit usually due to challenges with securing wayleaves (legal property access agreements) or limitations on access to run new cabling. But solutions to both can often be found.


However, in this case, Cityfibre appears to have completed a highly disruptive deployment around the building (it’s unclear if they did anything inside the building itself), only to then tell residents of Tytler Court that they couldn’t be served because the building “had the wrong layout and was too tall.” Except it’s only four-stories high and contains just 70 flats, which is just one story higher than some houses in the area.

Adam Ferrier, Local Resident, said (Edinburgh Live):

“I find it utterly bizarre that works were carried out for around four months that severely disrupted our lives and impacted accessibility – even for emergency services – at Tytler Court, only for residents to be told that we cannot use the product.

There are around 70 flats in Tytler Court and we have been told that we cannot access it. They began the work in January this year and only finished up in April. Some of the areas that they have dug up look extremely shoddy and there is still purple plastic cable capped off that is visible in the street.”

By all accounts, Cityfibre’s ISPs (e.g. Vodafone) were initially telling residents of the building that they would be able to get the service installed once the area went live on the new network. But residents found out later that the promised engineers were not turning up to make the final connections into flats, due to the aforementioned issue.

In fairness, it is entirely possible that Cityfibre might have run into problems with the layout of the building (i.e. difficulties with running new cables), although saying it was also “too tall” does seem a bit daft (four-stories is not that tall for an MDU) and solutions can often be found to cabling issues (e.g. InvisiLight cables as used by Openreach, Hyperoptic etc.).

The Edinburgh Live report does not include a comment from Cityfibre, but we have requested one and will report back in due course.


UPDATE 21st Oct @ 10:28am:

Some good news for residents of the building.

Paul Wakefield, Area Manager at CityFibre, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“As soon as we heard about this issue, we moved quickly to find a way to a positive solution. I’m pleased to say we’re now working to secure a wayleave for the property, which will enable us to connect the building. We’re delighted that so many people are interested in joining our full fibre network and we are working as hard as we can to get customers connected.”

We should point out that “working to secure” is not the same as “secured“, but hopefully there will be a positive outcome in the not-too-distant future. The issue also raises a question over whether it’s right to mark a service as being available to an MDU (i.e. orders taken) when the operator hasn’t yet deployed or even been granted access.

We understand that the building may have been “too tall” for Cityfibre’s external approach to deployment, but they will now most likely try to do it internally.


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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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30 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Stuart Gibson says:

    I have spoke to quite a few customers where openreach engineers have told them their building is to tall or they just can’t get broadband because of health and safety, but then referred them to get virgin. Most likely it’s the engineers not wanting to do the job

    1. Avatar photo Fastman says:

      I assume the city fibre network terminates outside the building and they have found out they need an internal MDU solution (city fibre not the first network provided to find the need an mdu solution at the last minute) Wonder if they have had any discussions with the buildings owners yet or not

    2. Avatar photo keeper says:

      Agreed, BT wouldn’t touch me for FTTP due to elf and safety but Sky had no problems.

  2. Avatar photo Simon says:

    Ah, these customers ‘fall into the empty hole’ category as depicted on the brand new CityFibre Logo.

    -Spend BILLIONS on designing a network and obtaining painstaking planning permissions
    -Spend BILLIONS digging trenches for core fibre networks
    -Spend BILLIONS on contractors installing it all and patching up roads/pavements
    -Spend MILLIONS on programming routers and network infrastructure
    -Spend MILLIONS on promoting adverts for getting customers connected

    Only for the whole thing to fall flat on its face and FAIL because some lazy cretin in field operations who:


    1. Avatar photo Ackers87 says:

      Healthy and safety won’t let you go anything above 3m if I remember on ladder any more

    2. Avatar photo TBC says:

      If you know anything about how things work and you don’t judging by this post.

      There are separate teams that work on MDUs. They are different classes of MDUs based on floors/number of flats etc.

      Then the MDU team need a Wayleave from the MDU owners, its nothing to do with ladders, its all legal stuff and its not just Cityfibre.

    3. Avatar photo Iain says:

      To add to what @MDC said (and Mark’s article update), permission is required from the owners. Flats are essentially freehold in Scotland, so there are many owners involved.

      The deeds probably specify a majority of owners can make a decision for the entire block. The current property Factor might already have such delegated authority. It’s also possible the deeds have a generic section on adding reasonable wayleaves for utilities.

  3. Avatar photo Zakir says:

    I find this funny look at Hyperoptic there where one of the first then Community Fibre to forcus purely on serving large residential buildings (MDU – Multi-Dwelling Units) if Hyperoptic can do it why cant cityfibre.

    We know other providers are slowly moving to fibre large residential buildings (MDU – Multi-Dwelling Units).

  4. Avatar photo Barry says:

    Hah, they have said my two story building is too tall and I need to wait three months so they can come up with a plan. This is after two engineer appointments months ago. It then took them another month to tell me it’s too tall.

  5. Avatar photo AJITMONDAL says:

    Cable broadband Fiber optic technician jab visa application.

  6. Avatar photo Douglas says:

    Actually if say it’s too tall for a quick fit external wire (3 floors maximum). Internal wiring will likely be done later but internal wiring takes a longer time to do and a lot of buildings need internal wiring. The “too tall” is likely missing the rest of the sentence as the public do

  7. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

    Apparently CityFibre photons get vertigo above three floors.

  8. Avatar photo Desynced and confused says:

    I’d love ISPNews to run a similar peice on Netomnia who told me they couldn’t serve my property because it involved serving the building via telegraph mounted connections and after customer complaints and a review they had deemed this too unsightly for their network and so weren’t going to supply these (I would think almost all rural) areas!

    1. Avatar photo John says:

      Mark has already covered it, people cried too much about poles so Netomnia pretty much stopped deploying new poles

    2. Avatar photo John says:

      Thats interesting, in my area as per bidb.uk:
      Netomnia Limited
      25/10/2022, 00:00:00 – 27/10/2022, 23:59:59
      Status: Granted Install 1x pole in the verge
      Netomnia Limited
      25/10/2022, 00:00:00 – 27/10/2022, 23:59:59
      Status: Granted Install 1x pole in the soft

    3. Avatar photo Desynced and confused says:

      The email I had from them suggested it was the unsightly boxes attached to current telegraph poles that was the problem so in addition to new poles for new connections they are also ruling out using extant telecoms poles!

  9. Avatar photo Abdullah khan says:

    HiPost heading is incorrect and cityfibre like to server these customers . It will done as apart of MDU build which involves mostly internal cabling. Please reach out right people ,this will initates wayleave process firstly. Do mot paint negitive picture .
    In some instance customers want quick service such serving as a SDU. Which is not possible due to many concerns.

    1. Avatar photo Andy says:

      Please share more details on who the right people are?

      I’ve used every forum on their website and I think it just go into a black hole. Not once have I received a single reply. Only marketing emails and letters saying the product is ready and accepting order and they will cancel it after couple of months.

  10. Avatar photo David Roe says:

    We’ve just had Lightning Fibre fit FTTP in our five blocks of flats that are 7 stories high. They just pre cut and tied the cables on the ground then dropped the down from the roof then came down on ropes and clipped the cables to the outside of the building. There obviously is a solution that is being used through our town.

  11. Avatar photo paul burchell says:

    I live in a 15 story tower block of 60 flats in Clapham, London and we have full fibre to premises supplied buy Community Fibre, they ran the main cable up to the roof and dropped the 60 feeds to the flats down the outside of the building.

    So all they have to do when you sign up is drill a hole in the wall and pull your feed in to your flat.

  12. Avatar photo Kevin says:

    Aghhh can we please remember we’re in the UK and it’s storey and storeys not story and stories.

  13. Avatar photo David says:

    As they’re sooo high, they’re closer to the Starlink satellites, so reduced latency.

    Maybe Starlink would be a better option for them? No need to dig up the roads and climbing ladders to install fibre optic cables.

  14. Avatar photo David says:

    As they’re sooo high up, there probably get a decent 4G out maybe 5G connection.

    Maybe a better option? No trenches to dig, cables to run.

  15. Avatar photo Andy says:

    CityFibre has done the same in Renfrew (Ferry Village), months of work for areas that is just blocks of flat either 4 or 5 stories tall only to be told the following months after placing an order:

    previous orders were cancelled due to the installation type being a PIA internal wiring, this is a type of installation where there is currently no process in place for us to follow so unfortunately.

    Same is getting done at Dumbarton Road, Glasgow, causing major disruption however they are all flats and this will never get used!

  16. Avatar photo Bob says:

    A number of reason one is cost. Working at height can be expensive. Secondly freeholders tend not to like cables being run over the outside of the building. Running cables internlly can be unsightly so the freeholder may not permit it you also have to aware of the fire regulations drilling holes through wall and floor can comprimise the fire integrety

    1. Avatar photo David says:

      Another reason why a 4G/5G connection or Starlink would be a better alternative. 🙂

    2. Avatar photo Chris W says:

      @David Those are really a last resort, especially StarLink simply due to the cost and reliability. Most people would much prefer fibre.

    3. Avatar photo David says:

      @Chris W I’ve been using a 4G internet connection in my house for the last 6 years.

      It’s fast enough, cheap and reliable. No need for a phone line or cables.

    4. Avatar photo Matt says:

      4G/5G may be bad in the lower flats depending on geography.

      Where are people who don’t have the top floor going to put Sat dishes (assuming they can get to the roof). They then also have to get connectivity back down to their flat.

      If it was an “easy” solution, people would be doing that already rather than pestering a provider to install after they’ve said no.

      “It’s fast enough” – for you, and your use case.
      “cheap and reliable” – for you, and your use case.

      4G/5G is wildly different even on the same mast in different locations. The “Just stick em on 4/5G” argument is pretty tiresome.

      Compare either of those to an FTTP connection and it looks pretty weak.

    5. Avatar photo David says:

      @Matt Sorry if you find it tiresome, but comparing my reasonable speed, low cost, low hassle 4G connection to a FTTP connection that can’t be connected…I think the 4G comes out top!

      It’ll certainly do me while they finish digging all the trenches and scratching their heads working out how to reach the 4th floor.

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