Broadband operator CityFibre has announced it will spend £2.5bn rolling out fibre networks in 27 towns and cities, including Glasgow, offering ultra-fast connections to as many as five million homes; a third of the UK Government’s target of 15 million homes by 2025.
The company, which was bought by Goldman Sachs West Street Infrastructure Partners and private equity firm Antin for $750m earlier this year, is taking on BT, which has faced criticism for the extent of its own full-fiber ambitions. CityFibre has previously announced a roll-out to 10 cities and towns, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Aberdeen.
It said the new investment will bring £85bn in associated economic benefits and create 5,000 construction jobs. CityFibre’s full fibre network is designed to serve all businesses and public sector sites, as well as providing a superior backbone for mobile operators’ existing locations, enabling the rollout of 5G and IoT technology.
With Vodafone as its first consumer ISP customer, CityFibre’s fibre-to-the-home builds are currently underway in Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Aberdeen, with construction due to start in Edinburgh, Stirling, Coventry and Huddersfield before the end of this year and Cambridge, Leeds and Southend-on-Sea shortly afterwards.
Greg Mesch, CityFibre’s chief executive, said: “With a head-start in 37 towns and cities, this plan enables us to further accelerate our rollout, catalysing huge economic growth in 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, benefitting 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 added: “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.”
Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands said: “Commercial investment in digital infrastructure in our cities is an important aspect of meeting our commitment to reaching 100% of premises by the end of 2021, alongside our work in rural Scotland, and this investment in full-fibre will enable our people and businesses to succeed while providing the stepping stone for advances in 5G technology.”