Vodafone and CityFibre, the UK’s largest alternative provider of wholesale fibre network infrastructure, have announced a long-term strategic partnership designed to bring ultrafast Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to up to five million UK homes and businesses by 2025.
Under the wholesale agreement, Vodafone will have a period of exclusive rights (predominantly during the build phase of each city network) to market ultrafast consumer broadband services on the FTTP network to be built, operated and owned by CityFibre. Construction of the first phase of deployment to one million premises is due to start in the first half of 2018, and is scheduled to be largely complete in 2021. Both parties have the right to extend the commercial terms of this agreement to expand coverage to a further four million homes and businesses by 2025.
The Vodafone and CityFibre partnership is said to represent one of the most significant developments in UK telecommunications since the launch of ADSL broadband around 17 years ago. The partnership will help to bridge Britain’s fibre gap, bringing Gigabit-capable FTTP connections to households, businesses and public sector sites such as schools, hospitals and GP surgeries, and delivering 50% of the UK Government’s target of ‘full fibre’ to 10 million homes and businesses. Such fibre networks are also critical for mobile networks, providing the very high-capacity backhaul connections required for 5G mobile services from the early 2020s onwards.
According to the duo, the agreement provides Vodafone UK with access to a superior product at a lower cost and with better service conditions than the regulated wholesale terms offered by the incumbent operator for access to its legacy copper telephone line broadband network. It is consistent with Vodafone Group’s capital-smart fixed infrastructure strategy that aims for an optimal mix of build/strategic partnership/wholesale/buy approaches in fixed broadband.
“This agreement will unlock the UK’s full fibre future and is a major step forward in delivering our vision for a Gigabit Britain,” states CityFibre Chief Executive Greg Mesch. “With this commitment from Vodafone, we have a partner with whom we can transform the digital capabilities of millions of homes and businesses, and establish an unassailable wholesale infrastructure position across 20% of the UK broadband market.”
“The UK has fallen far behind the rest of the world, trapped by the limited choice available on legacy networks,” adds Vodafone UK Chief Executive Nick Jeffery. “We look forward to working with CityFibre to build the Gigabit fibre network that the UK needs and deserves.”