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ISP Zen Internet Give Update on UK CityFibre FTTP Availability

Sunday, Mar 3rd, 2024 (12:01 am) - Score 6,320

Broadband ISP Zen Internet has furnished ISPreview with a small update on their efforts to make their gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband packages available – nationwide – across CityFibre’s entire UK network, which was previously due to complete at the end of 2023.

Just to recap. Back in March 2022 we reported that Zen Internet had decided to expand their relationship with CityFibre by making an exclusive long-term volume commitment across the operator’s entire network (here). As part of that, the ISP said they expected their services would be “available to all homes across the entire CityFibre footprint by late 2022.”

NOTE: CityFibre’s network currently covers 3.5 million UK premises (3.2m as Ready for Service) and, despite recent challenges, they still aspire to reach around 8 million by the end of 2025 (here).

However, when we last checked up on Zen’s progress at the end of 2022, the ISP informed us that “48 out of 59 phase 1 cities” were already live and they “expected that connectivity to a further 34 cities as part of our phase 2 plans will be delivered by the end of 2023” (here).

The provider has continued to make progress on their CityFibre expansion since then, which this month went live in Worcester and a few other places (locations that were on their phase 2 list). Suffice to say that we were keen to find out how close the ISP is to completion of this somewhat delayed project, although they declined to give any specifics about how many locations they’ve activated or precisely when the programme might complete.

David Barber, Strategy Director for Zen Internet, said:

“We continue our nationwide rollout of FTTP over the CityFibre network. We are currently offering services to over 80% of the RFS (ready for service) homes on the network and plan to expand this offering throughout 2024.”

The provider recommended that any prospective customers use the postcode availability checker on their website to check up on coverage. Quite why it’s taking Zen so much longer than originally anticipated to complete this expansion is unclear, although to be fair CityFibre has added a number of new locations since the last update. Likewise, onboarding new areas isn’t always a quick or simple task.

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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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18 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    Richard Tang’s done a fair few videos interviewing the CEOs of other altnets. You wonder whether he’s intending to sign up with some of them or waiting for them to get taken over……

  2. Avatar photo . says:

    Surely this doesn’t make commercial sense? Delaying onboarding customers for years because they don’t want to consume the national product. Must be easier to do that just to mop up the rest!

    1. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      You’d think the sensible thing to do would be to take the national product and then connect each CityFibre town to your own backhaul when the customer numbers hit the point at which the ROI makes it worth doing, rather than just not offering the service.

  3. Avatar photo Dave says:

    I wish Zen’s website would give customers the option of whether to take the product delivered via CityFibre or Openreach FTTP. Our property has existing FTTP via Openreach but Zen’s site only offers it via CityFibre (symmetrical upload 8s a clue the website is offering it via CF). I asked Zen whether they could take over the existing Openreach FTTP line but never got back to me.

    1. Avatar photo Ben says:

      If CityFibre is in your area then it seems inevitable that you’ll have their equipment installed in your home sooner or later — why not now?

    2. Avatar photo AndyK says:

      @Ben not everybody wants (or has space for) yet another box outside and inside the house, and yet another cable trailing around the outside…..
      Despite what some here seem to think, in reality almost nobody actually needs symmetrical speeds.

    3. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      They will insist on providing via CityFibre if it’s available. It’s no secret that CF is a lot cheaper for them than Openreach. As I’ve pointed elsewhere this is going to become a bigger issue going forward.

    4. Avatar photo Dave says:

      The quality of the CityFibre build here in Leeds is absolutely shocking. Unfinished coils of fibre left dangling from the poles causing a trip hazard, streetside cabinets loose/leaning over because they weren’t concreted into the ground properly, cabinet doors open, asphalt covering their wavy trenches in the ground all crumbling and breaking up, manhole covers in the ground not flush with the surrounding pavement, the list goes on…… I would never trust their infrastructure to provide my connection.

    5. Avatar photo yeehaa says:

      In fairness to CityFibre, technically the contractors who were responsible for the work should take the flack for the shoddy work. Have you reported the issues to the Council/local councillors? They should not be allowing any contractors to be allowed to get away with substandard work. Sadly a lot of councils don’t have the resources to enforce contractors to go back and fix the work. If you don’t get any joy, perhaps contact the local newspapers to do a story in the hope that it will shame the contractors into doing the remedial work.

    6. Avatar photo XGS says:

      You could do a lot worse than reporting this at https://www.fixmystreet.com/

      Highways will inspect anyway if they haven’t already but if you think they may have missed something and it was done less than 2 years ago use the above.

    7. Avatar photo Nick says:

      If you give Zen a call they can 100% do this as I went down this route with them this weekend as while CF show as available in my postcode, only openreach have a wayleave in place with my apartment building.

      It took them a little bit longer to place the order as they had to push it through an older system but I had order confirmation and an openreach appointment booked in a few hours after placing the order.

    8. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      the CF rollout in my area seems pristine by comparison. Huge black slits cut into every pavement, and it looks totally out of place compared to the weathered tarmac, but no coils of wire left anywhere. They only did this a few months ago so let’s see how long it lasts.

      as for the trouble of getting Zen on Openreach – seems a bit strange if you have to phone up to order the service that you can actually get, rather than it being built into their processes.

      I’d take that (as well as this “older system”) as a sign that they don’t want the business – and frankly Zen has long lost the sheen that previously made it a must have ISP anyway.

    9. Avatar photo A says:

      FixMyStreet doesn’t work in Leeds, the council won’t take reports via it for some reason. I have CF just outside Leeds, but it was FibreNation who did the actual build before CF bought them out, and the quality is excellent.

    10. Avatar photo Tbc says:

      Unsure as to why you would want to spend more money for much less upload speed?

      Im with openreach and i rather hope Quickline build over our rural street so i can get an extra 350 upload for less money.

    11. Avatar photo Not telling you but I know. says:

      Zen are contacting Openreach based FTTP customers and migrating them to CityFibre in areas where both are available.

      They won’t give you a choice in the matter as they get a significant cost saving from CF

  4. Avatar photo Gary Hough says:

    I recently upgraded from FTTC with Zen (My former employer) to their Fibre100 product. Openreach engineer was brilliant and the whole order to delivery process was excellent.

    I’m now connected via Openreach (no CityFibre) however I don’t see what the issue is whoever Zen connects you to in order to deliver the service, so long as what you get is what you asked for service and speed wise etc.

    1. Avatar photo FL8 says:

      Moved from BT full fibre to Zen recently. I did not want another box and hole in the wall (with CF), so asked to keep Openreach ONT which incurred an additional monthly charge. Switch over was seamless apart from digital voice which happened on another day. My neighbour has the same arrangement since he was reluctant to have CF

  5. Avatar photo Rich woo says:

    Just noticed the prices, I need something that competes with my three 5g router and so far nothing does, the price to problems ratio isnt worth it, also my old Plusnet connection was cheaper than these new tarrifs, these new network company’s was suppose to be bringing competition and they are failing massively

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