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CityFibre Hits Target of Reaching 1m Premises with Full Fibre

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CityFibre, which is aiming to connect 8 million UK premises with gigabit-capable full fibre by 2025, has met its intermediary target of reaching one million homes and businesses before the end of 2021.

The independent broadband network provided an update on its £4 billion build on Wednesday, saying its network now covers part of 60 UK cities and towns. In 25 of those locations, CityFibre is the largest full-fibre network, exceeding even Openreach.

Households and businesses within CityFibre’s footprint can purchase broadband with symmetric speeds of up to 1Gbps from a range of 30 consumer ISP partners. CityFibre has inked long-term deals with some of these larger ISPs, including TalkTalk, Vodafone, and Zen Internet.

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said: “This is a significant milestone on our path to reaching 8 million premises… The quality of the network we are building has already attracted some of the country’s biggest ISPs while we are also seeing the emergence of new and exciting brands offering even more options for consumers.”

“With a million homes now able to access our Full Fibre connectivity and more added every day, we are focused on supporting our consumer ISP partners to drive service take-up. We look forward to collaborating with our partners in the coming months to design compelling new packages and initiatives, and to continue raising awareness of the benefits of Full Fibre.”

CityFibre had reached just 500,000 premises at the beginning of this year, suggesting its build rate has accelerated to 42,000 premises per month from a previous rate of 24,000 per month.

In the spring Mesch said he believed the network’s build rate could equal or exceed BT’s (Openreach’s) within 24 months. Openreach’s latest FTTP update in July put its build rate at 45,000 premises per week, suggesting CityFibre still has some way to go. But it currently has 26 construction companies mobilised across the UK and by the end of 2022, it aims to have builds underway in more than 150 cities, towns and villages. 

By the end of 2025, a build will be “substantially completed” in 285 locations. The 8 million connections targeted for that date will potentially include 800,000 businesses, 400,000 public sector sites and 250,000 5G access points, CityFibre said. 

That will give CityFibre 30% coverage of the UK, making it a rival to Openreach (BT) and Virgin Media’s growing FTTP networks. Openreach is targeting 25 million FTTP connections by December 2026, with Virgin Media planning to reach at least 14 million premises with full-fibre by 2028.

CityFibre has also suggested it could further up its ambitions. Although its name comes from its initial focus on urban areas, CityFibre has expressed interest in competing for contracts for rural full-fibre deployments through the government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit programme, which will fund connections for the hardest-to-reach 20% of premises.

In the spring, Mesch was also seeking a £1 billion investment to fund an additional 2 million connections, potentially taking CityFibre's rollout target to 10 million premises.

CityFibre's targets have been more grounded in reality than those from rival alt network Hyperoptic. Hyperoptic had announced a goal of reaching two million premises by the end of this year but by July 2021 had connected just over 600,000 addresses, according to independent modelling by Thinkbroadband.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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