Milton Keynes is the first location to get 1Gbps broadband delivered over fibre to the premise (FTTP) infrastructure from Vodafone and CityFibre.
The two companies have committed to build an FTTP network covering as many as 5 million properties that would serve as an alternative to BT Openreach.
The first phase of the programme will see one million homes and businesses in 12 towns and cities connected by 2021.
Milton Keynes was selected because of its strong tech sector, local support smart citiy initiatives and because CityFibre already has a 160km network there.
“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 Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK CEO.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.”
“We are at the early stages of creating the Gigabit fibre network that the UK needs and deserves, and with the announcement of Milton Keynes as our first project we are well on our way to making this vision a reality. Full speed ahead,” added Greg Mesch, CityFibre CEO.
Local leaders hope the arrival of FTTP will boost productivity, especially in the technology industry, and deliver benefits to residents, businesses and the public sector.
“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,” said Peter Marland, leader of Milton Keynes Council. “We know that the city will get behind this project to ensure that every home and business unlocks their digital potential.”
The partnership between Vodafone and CityFibre has the potential to shake up the UK telecoms market, which has been reliant on Openreach infrastructure and until recently shied away from full fibre technology.
CityFibre will build and operate the network, while Vodafone will have a period of exclusive rights to use the network in exchange for a minimum commitment.
Vodafone is a recent entrant to the UK home broadband market and at present uses a combination of the Openreach network as its Cable & Wireless assets to deliver services. However, it has bought, built or part invested in ultrafast infrastructure in a number of countries including Spain, Italy and Ireland.
Indeed, it claims to have a footprint of 99 million premises across the continent.
CityFibre does not operate any broadband services of its own and instead targets towns and cities outside London by building FTTP networks for ‘anchor’ tenants such as local councils or mobile operators and architects them in such a way that they can be extended to residential areas so capacity can be sold on a wholesale basis to ISPs. It claims this ‘demand-led’ approach de-risks investment.
It bought KCOM’s national network outside of Hull and East Yorkshire for £90 million in 2015 and with Vodafone as a major anchor tenant around the country, it hopes to fulfill its ambition of being a national challenger to Openreach, which it has previously discussed with Silicon.
Openreach itself has committed to delivering ‘ultrafast’ broadband using a combination of FTTP and G.Fast – a technology which speeds up copper lines – to the majority of the UK within a decade.
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