Vodafone and CityFibre raise UK fibre targets to 1m homes

20 March 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Wholesale carrier CityFibre has upgraded the target of its UK fibre roll-out with Vodafone to one million homes.

The company, run by Greg Mesch (pictured), says that it has added two more cities, Bournemouth and Northampton, to the Gigabit City programme it is undertaking with Vodafone.

“Full fibre is the only infrastructure fit to power our economy in the digital age,” said Mesch. “With the addition of Bournemouth and Northampton to our previously announced Gigabit City projects, we have now identified over one million UK homes that will benefit from world-class connectivity.”

The networks, now being designed, will enable “a new generation of smart city applications” and provide “a backbone to support a future roll-out of 5G mobile services”, said CityFibre.

Vodafone UK’s director of digital and commercial operations, Neil Blagden, said: “Full fibre can help fuel everything from hi-tech businesses to connected classrooms and buffer-free households. It will boost the local economies and improve people’s lives.”

Vodafone will launch its fibre service, called Gigafast Broadband, in the two extra cities “later this year”, he said. The two companies have set their target of one million homes for 2021.

Network build is underway in seven cities, they said, and customers are already receiving Vodafone’s Gigafast broadband services in four of those.

CityFibre has had a network in Bournemouth since 2013, now reaching approximately 21,000 homes, but the company is having to redesign it to “align it with [its] national network architecture before being activated for service”.

CityFibre is a wholesale-only carrier and Vodafone will deliver the retail services to consumers, businesses and local authorities.

John Beesley, leader of Bournemouth Council, said: “An investment of this size strengthens our position of becoming a first-class, smart and connected digital place supporting the future needs of businesses and residents.”

His opposite number at Northampton Borough Council, Jonathan Nunn, added: “The future is digital. Therefore having the right infrastructure in Northampton is essential for us to remain competitive.”

Separately, Mesch last week received the inaugural Charles Kao Award from the FTTH Council Europe. The award was named in honour of Nobel prize-winner Professor Charles Kao, the inventor of optical fibre telecommunications who died last year.

The FTTH Council Europe, meeting at its annual conference in Amsterdam, said “Greg was selected for several reasons. Most recently we recognise his extraordinary contribution to the acceleration of full fibre deployment in the UK, a country that has until recently sat far behind in the European rankings for FTTH/B access.”

Ronan Kelly, president of the FTTH Council Europe, said: “When we decided to create the Charles Kao Award, it was clear that the winner had to be a firm believer in the benefits of full fibre. CityFibre’s strategic partnership with Vodafone, its recent fundraise of over £1.1bn towards its rollout to at least 20% of the UK market as well as his global experience of several other markets such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany is testament to Greg’s leadership and the scale of his contribution to our industry.”