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CityFibre Win Three Major UK Project Gigabit Broadband Rollout Contracts

Saturday, Jul 1st, 2023 (7:21 am) - Score 6,968

The UK Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit broadband rollout scheme has announced that CityFibre have secured three major build contracts for Hampshire, Norfolk and Suffolk in England. The combined award is worth £488m (£318m state aid and £170m private) and will see the operator extend 10Gbps capable FTTP to 218,000 premises (500k inc. commercial build).

The operator, which is supported by ISPs like Vodafone, TalkTalk, Giganet and more, already covers 2.8 million UK premises (2.4m RFS) with full fibre – mostly in urban areas – and their ambition is to cover up to 8m (funded by c.£2.4bn in equity and c.£4.9bn debt) – across over 285 cities, towns and villages (c.30% of the UK) – by the end of 2025 (here). But they also previously secured the Project Gigabit contract for Cambridgeshire (here).

NOTE: 76.22% of UK premises can already access a gigabit speeds (53% via just FTTP) – detail.

By comparison, Project Gigabit aims to extend 1Gbps capable (download) networks to reach at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025, before hopefully achieving “nationwide” coverage (c. 99%) by around 2030 (here). Commercial investment is expected to deliver more than 80% of this, which leaves the government’s scheme to focus on tackling the final 20% (mostly rural and some sub-urban areas), where the private sector alone often fails. The project is technology neutral, so it can be delivered via either “full fibre” FTTP, Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) or fixed wireless access (e.g. 5G) – but FTTP is strongly favoured.

The project uses a number of different approaches to tackle this challenge (e.g. vouches and investment in dark fibre builds), but the largest part of the scheme involves a gap-funded subsidy approach – the Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy (GIS). This is where smaller local or larger regional contracts are awarded to network operators and ISPs who can help to build their gigabit-capable infrastructure across the final 20%.

The Building Digital UK (BDUK) agency, which manages Project Gigabit, has already awarded a string of initial rollout contracts to various operators (see bottom of article for a summary) and today’s news adds another three, all of which have gone to CityFibre.

Norfolk contract (Lot 7)

  • £114m Project Gigabit investment
  • £43m CityFibre investment
  • Connections for 62,200 rural homes and businesses
  • Locations including Buxton, Castle Acre and Horning will be among those to benefit.
  • A further 8,000 premises in the north west of the county are being reviewed for inclusion subject to survey in the next six months.
  • Survey work completed anticipated December 2023
  • Build commences anticipated January 2024
  • Build completion anticipated December 2028

Suffolk contract (Lot 2)

  • £100m Project Gigabit investment
  • £74m CityFibre investment
  • Connections for 79,500 rural homes and businesses
  • Locations including hamlets, villages and towns such as Icklingham, Mellis and Ringshall will be among those to benefit.
  • Survey work completed anticipated December 2023
  • Build commences anticipated January 2024
  • Build completion anticipated December 2028

Hampshire contract (Lot 27)

  • £104m Project Gigabit investment
  • £54m CityFibre investment
  • Connections for 75,500 rural homes and businesses
  • Locations including East Hampshire, Rushmoor and Test Valley will be among those to benefit.
  • Survey work completed anticipated December 2023
  • Build commences anticipated January 2024
  • Build completion anticipated March 2029

The above details only reflect CityFibre’s publicly funded deployment under the three contracts, but the private investment they’ve made alongside will also add another 283,000 premises (over 500,000 in total).

Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, Sir John Whittingdale, said:

“Access to lightning-speed broadband is key to the government’s plans for driving economic growth and levelling up communities. This investment of £318 million in government funding is a significant milestone in achieving that mission.

Delivered through our flagship Project Gigabit programme, 218,000 homes and businesses across Norfolk, Suffolk, and Hampshire will benefit from a modern digital infrastructure, helping to power local communities and our plan to boost connectivity all over the UK.”

CityFibre CEO, Greg Mesch, said:

“Securing three further Project Gigabit contracts firmly establishes CityFibre as an integral delivery partner to the Government for rural connectivity. Our growing participation is central to our strategy, optimising our commercial rollout plan alongside the programme to provide our ISP customers with unrivalled network density in regions throughout the country.”

Generally, Project Gigabit is intended to focus on tackling the hardest to reach (predominantly rural) premises, although CityFibre’s contracts do appear to stray into some urban areas too, with the announcement noting that “residents and businesses in Portsmouth, Beccles, the Broads and further afield” will benefit (Portsmouth is not particularly rural).

However, CityFibre’s approach to these contracts is intended to be a complementary one, with the public investment only being used to tackle the tougher parts and this in turn will then help the operator to spread their coverage into more lucrative areas (i.e. where their private investment will be used).

Project Gigabit GIS Contract Awards History
Wessex Internet for North Dorset (Lot 14.01) in August 2022 (here)
➤ GoFibre for Teesdale (Lot 4.01) in September 2022 (here)
➤ GoFibre for North Northumberland (Lot 34.01) in October 2022 (here)
Fibrus for Cumbria (Lot 28) in November 2022 (here)
➤ Wildanet for Central Cornwall (Lot 32.03) and South West Cornwall (Lot 32.02) in January 2023 (here)
➤ CityFibre for Cambridgeshire (Lot 5) in March 2023 (here)
Wessex Internet for the New Forest (Lot 27.01) in April 2023 (here)
➤ Freedom Fibre for North Shropshire (Lot 25.02) in May 2023 (here)
➤ CityFibre for Norfolk (Lot 7), Suffolk (Lot 2) and Hampshire (Lot 27) in July 2023 (here)

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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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48 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Salem874 says:

    Interesting further details for each of these three awards.

    Was any similar details (estimated times) for Cambridgeshire’s award as for these?

  2. Avatar photo Deepest Darkest Devon says:

    Interesting me ‘ansome that the latest BDUK June 2023 update has:

    Devon and North Somerset (Lot 6) TBC TBC TBC TBC*
    *We are currently undertaking the design process for our Devon and North Somerset intervention. With a number of options remaining on the table, we have included it in the pipeline as TBC, but will be firming up our proposed intervention in due course.

  3. Avatar photo speaking the truth says:

    “Build completion anticipated March 2029”

    Bloody hell its now 2023 and they are talking about 6 years time so nothing to look forward too.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Partly that’s the reality of deploying into rural areas. But most of the build will occur within the first c.3 years, and then you tend to have a long-tail of slower rollout as it draws to a close. Equally, it’s not completely clear whether 2029 is contract completion or build completion, which are two related but different things. A lot of the SFBB contracts ran for 7 years, but only half of that was spent on build (upkeep, clawback etc. got measured over the rest).

    2. Avatar photo Testy McTestFace says:

      The worst scenario is being a “Direct In Ground” property/street in an area where the build is/has happened.

      If you’re skipped because DIG properties are “commercially unviable” then there is no ETA *at all*. BTOR say they don’t anticipate returning (as costs are unlikely to come down), and BDUK are extremely non-committal, instead simply saying that “they hope” a commercial provider will come to our street in future.

      And that’s it, folks. Will it be 2030? 2040? Never? Nobody can tell me.

      I’ve been told that DIG properties account for about ~10% of all properties, and many are urban. Really sucks to be surrounded by FTTP and be one of the 10%. With nobody wanting to help us, at all.

    3. Avatar photo polestar says:

      I suspect a good proportion of direct in ground will be resolved by putting up poles and going overhead doing whatever minor digs are needed to get fibre to the poles. But the effort for that is being pushed back until all the low hanging fruit FTTP deployment has been done.

  4. Avatar photo Gigabit says:

    Some really big gaps in this award, including mostly all of the area between and around Farnham/Alton with lots of premises?

    I can’t find any evidence these will be covered by commercial builds (they were covered by Government subsidy for FTTC), so does anyone know why these have been excluded?

    1. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Presumably there are unannounced commercial builds that’ll cover them. Wherever there are FTTC cabinets nearby there’s the potential for Openreach to cover commercially. Where there are FTTC cabinets nearby and areas too far from the cabinets to benefit that’ve instead received full fibre it gets spicier still.

  5. Avatar photo PhilipSmith72 says:

    Still not a peep on Lot 4(North East) regional contract award, had already slipped from Autumn 2022 to April/May 23 but now we are past that.

  6. Avatar photo Sam says:

    Still nothing between Leicester and Tamworth. We might as well not exist here! (Twycross exchange area!)

    1. Avatar photo CJ says:

      Well Leicester and Tamworth aren’t in Hampshire, Norfolk or Suffolk are they?

      But the Leicestershire procurement is in progress and Staffordshire is about to start, so you’re a lot further ahead in the process than many of us.


  7. Avatar photo Chris says:

    Under hampshire it lists Rushmoor which is not rural, Rushmoor is a borough including Farnborough, Aldershot and their conurbations.

    There is a village called Rushmoor but it’s in Waverley Surrey.

    Rushmoor in hampshire is being FTTP’d by Toob which I assume will wholesale to city fibre, F&W is also deploying FTTP and I’m told customers are already live.

    I’m assuming city fibre won’t be overbuilding Toob here in Rushmoor – Hampshire.

  8. Avatar photo Joe Bloggs says:

    Still waiting 76 days since my original install date for CityFibre to install my 1gig broadband. Terrible communication and slow to repair problems. If the deal wasn’t such a good price I would have just gone back to Virgin Media assuming they ever get all the issues fixed!

  9. Avatar photo Andrew says:

    I live in a small Suffolk village, we now have 3 providers apparently coming :

    County broadband (they’ve had many villagers sign their 24 month contract, which they say is enforceable for 18 months from signing)

    Gigaclear who say just to register, no contract until connection.

    And now these guys (our village postcodes are in the project gigabit list)

    It seems to me unlikely all 3 providers will roll out? I think we have 800 people in the village, and the nearest town is 20 minutes away, it doesn’t seem probable for all this overbuild to happen?

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      they do seem to love overbuilding in Suffolk, with Cityfibre in Ipswich itself and Trooli in the outlying areas. Triple-overbuilt in Ipswich of course as there’s also Virgin.

      I really do wonder what the point of “project gigabit” actually is, as overbuilding seems to be the theme. I am acutely aware of the Cornish projects – Openreach already has FTTP (or had already announced plans to build it) in the postcodes covered.

    2. Avatar photo Somerset says:

      In this village Virgin Media are installing. In 3 weeks time Truespeed are.

    3. Avatar photo Testy McTestFace says:

      Is anyone acutely aware that the Cornish projects have/are skipping DIG properties and there is no plan to come back to them…?

      The whole thing is a mess, with BTOR simply allowed to skip any property they don’t fancy.

      One surveyor told me to pin my hopes on Starlink, lol.

      Can’t even get fixed wireless.

    4. Avatar photo speaking the truth says:

      @Testy McTestFace

      “BTOR simply allowed to skip any property they don’t fancy”

      This is simply not true, its BDUK who tell BTOR to skip properties after the survey and high price to do come back. For each group of houses anything that goes over the cost cap has to be manually agreed.

    5. Avatar photo Testy McTestFace says:

      @speaking the truth

      It’s true enough for the Cornwall roll-out. BTOR have had lots of subsidy down here, but if they don’t fancy rolling out FTTP to a street they won’t.

      BDUK say there’s nothing they can do about it, as it’s not part of any BDUK scheme.

      I’ve been in contact with everyone from Superfast Cornwall to DCMS, and nobody is interested in DIG properties in Cornwall. They’ve all fallen through the cracks and nobody gives a damn.

    6. Avatar photo Testy McTestFace says:

      @speaking the truth

      I should say that BDUK schemes in Cornwall are 100% focused on rural areas where no commercial roll-out is planned.

      If there is a street that is urban, and BTOR do their roll-out, but skip that street, then it’s in a kind of limbo that *nobody* wants to address.

      It’s not part of any BDUK scheme. BTOR and the only other altnet here (Wildanet) aren’t interested in DIG streets. I’ve spoken to BTOR and they’ve said, “We have a plan for your street!” When I asked, “What is the plan?” they replied, “To wait for future technology to lower costs.” I asked, “Is there an ETA?” They said, “No. We won’t consider this street again until 2027 and there is no guarantee the financial situation will have changed. We won’t return unless the numbers add up.”

      The problem is, BDUK won’t include us in any scheme. Why? “We have been told that commercial providers have a plan for your street.”

      You see the problem, here?

    7. Avatar photo speaking the truth says:

      @Testy McTestFace

      I was speaking only about BDUK projects as the article above is about awarding BDUK contracts.

      If you have a costly FTTP deployment due to DIG dont expect a commercial providers or the government to pay, get your wallet out and get it done yourself with FTTPod.

    8. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Hmm. If it isn’t getting done this side of 2027 it should be within the intervention area.

      It’s not in commercial plan between now and 2026, Openreach lists give 2023-26 estimates for areas as an indicator to intervention areas.

  10. Avatar photo Jason says:

    Got to win something , wont be any awards for customer satisfaction thats for sure

  11. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

    I am shocked, public money have gone to a different network and not to Openreach for a change. a shame that Vodafone is in with it, but it is a start

    1. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      What are you talking about? Public money has gone into a number of different networks. Some of them are even still in business.

      If people in these areas don’t want Vodafone they simply don’t buy Vodafone. Remind me how many options of ISP you get or will ever get through your altnet again?

    2. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      Out of reach gets a lot more money from the taxpayers than altnets, I still remember the money that was taken from the TV licence and that went to Openreach. Fastershire have ploughed tax payers money into Openreach.

      I did not say anything about choice, I just said it is a shame that Vodafone is involved, but it is a start. As for the choice I have, I knew what I was signing up for and so far I am happy with what I have, the good thing is, only a 12 month contract. I am hoping I never have to go back onto openreach network. I will not say never, because things can change.

    3. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Vodafone are a customer of CityFibre. They’re about as involved in this as TalkTalk are in Openreach projects.

    4. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @XGS Is On, Ah, I should have realised that, so Vodafone has nothing to do with Cityfibre. I suppose it is good that people have the choice, at least they don’t have to go through the process of having more fibre and another splice box.

  12. Avatar photo Ex Telecom Engineer says:

    Another taxpayer subsidy for a garbage altnet like Cityfibre, great.

    1. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Think CityFibre are a tad beyond the label of an altnet.

      Much as shovelling public money into the BT pension fund was okay for BDUK it had to at least be slowed down eventually. A reasonable medium to be found between handing all the money to Openreach and using others where it makes sense. CityFibre are too big to fail. Worst case they’d be acquired by someone else on the cheap due to their local authority metro deals.

    2. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      Don’t surprise me at all that you support Out of reach, how are your shares doing?

    3. Avatar photo Ex Telecom Engineer says:


      Not great but thanks for asking.

  13. Avatar photo GA says:

    Just hope this public money isn’t lost if Cityfibre Investors pull the plug.

    1. Avatar photo speaking the truth says:

      Cityfibre don’t get paid until each sub-deployment is complete, its the same for Openreach or any altnet doing BDUK work.

  14. Avatar photo Barney says:

    At least it’s not Openreach with their substandard product offerings that are not even up to the DCMS “Ultrafast Gold Standard”

    1. Avatar photo speaking the truth says:

      Nothing wrong with Openreach just people like you who are the issue.

    2. Avatar photo Barney says:

      You anti-City Fibre? Why so triggering? Just stating OR’s offerings are not upto the DCMS Gold Standard

    3. Avatar photo The Facts says:

      ‘Openreach is pleased to be investing in gold standard Ultrafast Full Fibre across Southwark.’

    4. Avatar photo speaking the truth says:


      I was responding to your negative comment about Openreach, I made no negative reference about Cityfibre so not sure why you claim I may be anti Cityfibre, seems you have a chip on your shoulder like a lot of people in the world these days.

    5. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @speaking the truth, the problem is that in most parts of the country, Openreach have had no competition and at long last they have. They had Virgin in some places for years, or what ever it was called before, and that is about it. We had a wireless network a few years ago which I did join, it was ok at the time, 10 Mb/s instead of the 3 I was getting on ADSL, sadly they could not cope with the influx of users and the service went downhill. By the time my contract ended the speed was worse than what I had on ADSL and by that time FTTC was here, just about.
      Sad really, if they were able to keep the speed up and at a decent price I would have stayed with them, but they are no more. A local company that tried to do something right. They are still going, but only as their original service, which is a payment service and payment card producer.

      Now we have zzoomm here and they seem to be doing ok, I have only been with them for just over 2 weeks and the service have been faultless, but I don’t think the city could cope with another alt network,

    6. Avatar photo Anon says:

      as someone with Openreach FTTP, I’d welcome an alternative, the latency is horrible and I need a higher upload speed.
      But I live in a village with County Broadband available (but not to my road), and soon everyone else will have Gigaclear is an option.

  15. Avatar photo Sonic says:

    Nothing for Winchester? There’s a surprise.

    This makes no sense. Openreach is already rolling out in Andover, Aldershot and Petersfield. Toob covers Farnborough. Project Gigabit? More like Project Overbuild. What is the logic here?

    I live in a “Gigabit White” postcode in Winchester and there is nothing on the horizon for us and thousands of other premises in Winchester.

    1. Avatar photo LifeInTheSlow Lane says:

      Well there are lots of blobs around Winchester on the map in the press release so I guess there is hope. Probably won’t get a definitve list until CityFibre finish surveying.

  16. Avatar photo GDS says:

    So Cityfibre have won another Norfolk Contract.
    They still have’nt finished postcodes within Norwich’s City Boundaries.
    e.g. NR4 6 area, dug up the road nearly two years ago without any activiation.
    these areas (where I have family) are limited to between 10mMbps and 17Mbps FTTC, with uploads sub 1Mbps, but because these areas have Virgin Media’s Predecessors predecessor (Norwich Cable Vision/Bell Cable Media) Docsis in the local streets (despite hardly anyone’s houses connected to them (nobody wanted their gardens dug up in the 90’s to watch a handfull of Sky Channels) there is no central pressure for anything to be done.

  17. Avatar photo Si says:

    I wonder if test valley would include Andover. Woefully underserved by fibre here.

    1. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Lots of Virgin Media cable in Andover. This project only covers areas with no gigabit access.

    2. Avatar photo Si says:

      Virgin media in Andover is shit. It’s not everywhere and they’ve not expanded anywhere else in the past 30+ years. Just what they inherited from c+w/nynex.

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