18 January 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Residents of the city of Milton Keynes in the English Midlands are to get direct gigabit fibre connections in a project by Vodafone and the independent carrier CityFibre.
The project will see a private investment from CityFibre of
at least £40 million into the digital infrastructure,
which will extend an existing 160km fibre network.
CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch said: "The partnership between
Vodafone and CityFibre aims to tackle the huge problem the UK
faces in terms of digital inadequacy and will help fulfil our
vision of a Gigabit Britain."
CityFibre says it will use modern build techniques to deploy
the network quickly and minimise disruption. Once completed,
nearly every business and home in Milton Keynes will have
fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) access.
The deal follows an announcement in November 2017 that
Vodafone and CityFibre would spend £500 million to bring
FTTP to five million homes across the UK by 2025.
Under that agreement – of which this is part
– Vodafone has the right to a period of exclusivity
that will allow it to market consumer broadband services on the
network for about three years.
Nick Jeffery, CEO of Vodafone UK, said: "We believe that
residents deserve a digital communications service to match
their ambitions. This is why we are providing gigabit-capable
connections to transform the way we live and work."
CityFibre is a wholesale player without its own business or
consumer customers. It has launched fibre networks in a number
of cities, from Aberdeen in the north of Scotland to
Southend-on-Sea in the south-east of England, sometimes with a
preferred partner. In 2016 it signed a master services agreement with Level 3,
now part of CenturyLink and in 2017 it said it was raising £200 million in a share
placing to build a 50-city fibre network.
Milton Keynes was founded as a new city in 1967 and its
population is now around 270,000. It is halfway between the
university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, which are now being
connected by a new rail line.
"Milton Keynes is fast becoming a UK leader for productivity
and growth, with its economic prospects only likely to improve
following the opening of the East West Rail project," said
Peter Marland, leader of Milton Keynes Council, said: "As a
modern city that prides itself on its smart city ambitions and
projects, we are perfectly positioned to make the most of this
major private investment in our digital infrastructure."