Vodafone, already offering full-fibre “Gigafast Broadband” via Cityfibre’ network, has reached a deal with Openreach to use their FTTP infrastructure in the rollout as well.
Currently, you can only access Vodafone broadband’s full-fibre packages if you live in an address connected by alternative network Cityfibre. That’s just 106,000 premises currently, in Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Coventry, Huddersfield, Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Stirling.
However, Cityfibre is accelerating its rollout, aiming to reach a minimum of one million premises in 12 targeted cities by the end of 2021 and five million in 37 cities by 2025. Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds, Northampton and Southend-on-Sea are next in line for connections.
Comparatively, Openreach (BT) has already connected 1.9 million premises and is targeting an additional four million by March 2021 and 15 million by 2025. Vodafone is aiming to offer FTTP to 500,000 of these premises by the middle of 2021.
The networks aren’t identical, however. Cityfibre offers symmetrical connections, while Openreach’s FTTP network is asymmetrical, with slower upload speeds.
Traditionally, alternative network providers have offered faster speeds and cheaper prices than Openreach. However, Openreach recently slashed its wholesale prices for ISPs and will soon introduce new 500Mbps and 1Gbps speed tiers and is reportedly trialling symmetric speeds on those lines, in an effort to compete with independent fibre networks.
Vodafone currently has an exclusivity deal with Cityfibre, in place in the cities Cityfibre is connecting, until the network builds there are complete.
But that leaves many other cities where Vodafone can switch on FTTP via Openreach. It’s aiming for Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool first, starting from next spring.
These are all cities where Cityfibre isn’t currently building, although it had tentatively targeted Bristol for the future.
Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK CEO, said: “Vodafone is committed to a full fibre future and to creating the infrastructure Britain needs to compete and win in the digital era. This initiative with Openreach builds on our existing commitments with Cityfibre and underlines our belief in the power of digital technology to connect people for a better future and unlock economic growth for the UK.”
Clive Selley, Openreach CEO, said: “Our full fibre broadband network already covers more than 1.9 million premises in the UK, and Openreach engineers are building it to another home or business every 26 seconds.
“We’re keen to upgrade customers as quickly as possible to this new, ultrafast, future-proof platform, so we’re proud that Vodafone’s placing its confidence in Openreach to deliver a great broadband experience for their customers. We’re determined to be the partner of choice for all Communications Providers and we’ll do that by offering the best connectivity and service with the widest possible coverage throughout the country.”