Cityfibre Begin 1Gbps FTTH Broadband Rollout in Cambridge UK

cityfibre street works fibre optic dig

Some 60,000 homes and businesses across the city of Cambridge (Cambridgeshire, England) look set to benefit after Cityfibre announced the start of their £20m 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband roll-out, which is being supported by UK ISP partner Vodafone and is due to complete by the end of 2021.

Cityfibre already operates a 44km long metro Dark Fibre network in Cambridge, although at present this is only used to connect local businesses and public sector sites but it will help as a springboard for the new FTTH rollout. The venerable John Henry Group has also been appointed as the company’s local contractor for this project.

Unlike usual, the operator does not this time reveal which areas will be the first to benefit from their deployment. As such we took a quick look at local roadworks in Cambridge and struggled to find any work being done by Cityfibre, although there is plenty of telecoms related work on-going by Openreach (BT) and Virgin Media in the area.

As usual all of this effort forms part of the operator’s wider £2.5bn plan to reach 1 million UK premises by the end of 2021 (Phase One) and then 5 million by the end of 2024 via 37 UK cities (here). As part of that the first homes in Cambridge are expected to go live this autumn 2019 (previously the target was summer).

Charles Kitchin, CityFibre’s City Manager for Cambridge, said:

“This investment in Cambridge comes at a key time for the city. Digital investment has the ability to transform businesses and communities and recent research estimates that over the next 15 years, full fibre could unlock £470m for the city’s economy. Full fibre can also attract inward investment and boost the local economy for years to come.

As the project moves forward, we want to work with as many organisations as possible to raise awareness of our plans for Cambridge and ensure everyone understands the long-term importance of reliable, ultrafast and limitless broadband.”

Councillor Ian Bates added:

“We welcome CityFibre’s announcement that they will be using a local company, John Henry Group, to bring full fibre to homes and businesses in the Cambridge area. This and the work of other commercial providers complements our aim to expand full fibre networks across the county to underpin the local economy, support public services and prepare for the next-generation of mobile services.

Our Connecting Cambridgeshire programme is one of the first in the country to establish a dedicated Enabling Digital Delivery (EDD) team to resolve barriers to the rapid delivery of digital connectivity, making best use of public sector assets and maximising private sector investment in full fibre. The EDD team is working with CityFibre and Cambridgeshire County Council’s Streetworks team to trial the Government’s good practice toolkit for other authorities to follow.”

The operator has previously said that their local roll-out could deliver millions in economic benefits for the city (Regeneris report), including £59m in boosted productivity and innovation, £23m in new business start-ups and £117m in increased housing wealth. As usual we always recommend taking such forecasts with a big pinch of salt as they tend to be very optimistic and overlook the fact that faster speeds tend to deliver diminishing economic returns.

All of this will also have to be balanced against the fact that Cityfibre will be competing against some ultrafast FTTP and broadband services from Openreach (BT), as well as the wide coverage of Virgin Media’s now 500Mbps capable cable DOCSIS network.

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