CEO of UK Full Fibre Provider Cityfibre Wins 1st Charles Kao Award

sir charles k.kao

The CEO of UK fibre optic network builder Cityfibre, Greg Mesch, has today become the first person to receive the first Charles Kao Award at the annual FTTH Conference in Amsterdam, which recognises the “extraordinary contribution” of an individual to the acceleration of full fibre (FTTH / FTTB) broadband deployment.

The award itself is given in honour of Nobel Prize winner Sir Charles Kuen Kao (aka – “Father of Fibre Optics“), whom in 2009 was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for “ground-breaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibres for optical communication.“Sadly Charles passed away last year in Hong Kong after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease (here).

Over the past few years Cityfibre has built itself up to become one of the UK’s largest alternative network providers for Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) and Dark Fibre networks. At present they’re in the process of creating a £2.5bn investment to reach 1 million UK premises in 10 cities with FTTP by the end of 2021 (phase one – expected cost of c.£500m), which should rise to 5 million across 37 cities and towns by the end of 2024 (here).

Suffice to say that the competitive pressures being created by Cityfibre, as well as other AltNet ISPs in the market (e.g. Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, Community Fibre etc.), have helped to light another flame under the established players (Openreach, Virgin Media) and is thus helping to encourage even more “full fibre” deployments.

Ronan Kelly, President of the FTTH Council Europe, said:

“When we decided to create the Charles Kao Award, it was clear that the winner had to be a firm believer in the benefits of full fibre. CityFibre’s strategic partnership with Vodafone, its recent fundraise of over £1.1bn towards its rollout to at least 20% of the UK market as well as his global experience of several other markets such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany is testament to Greg’s leadership and the scale of his contribution to our industry.”

Greg Mesch said:

“To be associated with Charles Kao, such an innovator in our industry, is a real honour so I’m delighted and grateful for this award. With the potential of a full fibre future dawning on countries around the world, it has been a rare privilege to help set the four different countries on a path to making it happen. I urge all those individuals keen to do the same to reject the status quo and harness the desire for a new generation of businesses to take the reigns.”


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