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Vodafone Expands Ultrafast Coverage and Nears 1m Broadband Subscribers

Vodafone has struck new capacity deals with BT’s Openreach and alternative network CityFibre, moves that will give it the widest full-fibre broadband availability in the country. At the same time, it’s grown its UK broadband business to 962,000 accounts.

The telecoms giant inked a fresh deal with the BT Group to continue selling connections over subsidiary Openreach’s full-fibre network, which currently covers 5.2 million premises. 

Nearly simultaneously, Vodafone signed a new contract with independent infrastructure provider CityFibre to sell services to all one million premises it covers. Vodafone had previously been limited to selling connections over CityFibre’s network in just the 12 markets in which it initially launched. CityFibre now has a presence in 60 UK cities and towns.

By straddling the two infrastructure providers, Vodafone will have the largest full-fibre availability of any UK ISP by the spring, at 8 million premises and counting. 

It will also benefit from Openreach and CityFibre’s ongoing—and accelerating—full-fibre rollouts. Openreach hopes to bring FTTP to 25 million premises by the end of 2026, while CityFibre has its eyes on 8 million by the end of 2025.

“A couple of years back we were new to broadband but by spring we will have the widest fibre-to-the-premises footprint in the UK," Ahmed Essam, chief executive of Vodafone UK, told the Financial Times.

Vodafone launched its home broadband services in the UK in 2015. While it’s snapped up cable broadband networks in Germany and Spain, and acquired 25 million broadband subscribers across Europe along the way, it doesn’t own broadband infrastructure in its home market. But that’s an advantage, allowing Vodafone to expand its reach in the UK faster than rivals, Essam said.

“BT will always sell on BT. Virgin Media will always sell on Virgin Media,” he said of his main competitors.

Essam also said he’s open to a deal with Virgin Media O2 or other broadband infrastructure providers to give Vodafone access to their gigabit-capable networks as well. 

Earlier this year Vodafone and competitor TalkTalk were reported to be tentative talks with VMO2 to gain access to their expanding full-fibre network. In the meantime, Sky has rushed ahead and is reportedly close to a deal to take a stake in Virgin’s Project Lightning, which has already brought full fibre to 1.2 million households and is targeting 15.5 million by 2028.

Meanwhile, Vodafone signed up an additional 22,000 home broadband subscribers between July and September, taking its fixed broadband business to 962,000 accounts. 

Its broadband service hasn’t always been well received by customers, attracting the highest or second-highest volume of complaints in 11 quarters between the summer of 2018 and the beginning of 2021, according to complaints figures collected by Ofcom. However, it’s since turned its performance around. Vodafone Broadband drew 13 complaints per 100,000 customers between April and June of this year, just above the industry average of 12 per 100,000 customers.

Vodafone’s mobile customer base in the UK stayed flat at just under 17 million customers but also saw its complaint numbers dive to 3 per 100,000 subscribers—half of the number it was drawing in 2019.

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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