Network specialist CityFibre has announced a £2.5bn investment plan to unlock the UK’s next generation broadband and expand its full fibre network to a further 11 Yorkshire cities and towns.
The initial targeted cities include Leeds, Huddersfield, Coventry, Cambridge and Edinburgh. The firm said five million homes will benefit from full fibre broadband, meeting a third of the Government’s 2025 target.
In total, CityFibre has identified 37 towns and cities where it already has critical fibre assets which are primed for expansion for fibre-to-the-home.
These include a further nine Yorkshire towns and cities (Batley, Bradford, Dewsbury, Doncaster, Halifax, Harrogate, Rotherham, Sheffield and Wakefield) which are primed to receive additional investment.
Councillor James Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for resource and sustainability, said: “Leeds City Council is delighted to hear about CityFibre’s ambitious plans to develop a new full fibre network in Leeds.
"Encouraging and facilitating investment from private sector providers like CityFibre is an important part of our strategy to help us realise our ambition that all premises in the district, residential and commercial, are able to access gigabit capable services and take advantage of new technologies and new ways of living and working.”
The investment plan responds to the Government’s strategic direction for nationwide full fibre connectivity and its desire for this to be delivered by multiple providers.
CityFibre said the scale of its plan means it will be awarding city and town-wide construction contracts across the country for several years to come.
The firm said its whole-city build approach ensures that, once completed, nearly every home and business in its footprint will have access to transformational full fibre connectivity, putting each of the 37 towns and cities on a new footing as they join the “Gigabit City” club.
The investment plan will deliver a large-scale, open-access platform reaching a fifth of the UK’s consumer market, providing choice for internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile network operators.
CityFibre said its full fibre networks offer gigabit speed services at lower prices than other networks, while also dramatically improving service levels and network reliability.
With Vodafone as its first ISP customer, CityFibre’s fibre-to-the-home builds are currently underway in Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Aberdeen.
Construction is due to start in Huddersfield, Edinburgh, Stirling and Coventry before the end of this year and in Leeds, Cambridge and Southend-on-Sea shortly afterwards.
Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said: “With a head-start in 37 towns and cities, this full fibre investment plan enables us to further accelerate our rollout, catalysing huge economic growth in regional towns and cities across the country and transforming the UK’s digital future.
“Our rollout will soon bring to scale an innovative wholesale network, providing internet service providers and mobile network operators with greater choice and unrivalled technical capabilities, benefiting all sectors of the market.
“We now need to work together across Government, Ofcom and industry to create a level-playing field that continues to encourage investment from multiple network operators, so that full fibre can be delivered as quickly and effectively as possible.”
Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: "The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review set out our plans to maximise full fibre coverage.
"I'm delighted that CityFibre's investment in 37 towns and cities across the UK will ensure the vast majority of homes and businesses in those areas can access this technology through new fibre networks.
"Significant investment from new network operators is critical to deliver our ambition for nationwide coverage. Through our Industrial Strategy we're working with businesses and Ofcom to ensure effective network competition that supports investment on this scale."