Cityfibre’s £35m investment to upgrade and extend their Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network in the south coast UK city of Bournemouth (Dorset), which is being supported by ISP partner Vodafone UK, appears to be moving up a gear this month with work starting in areas north of Wallisdown Road.
Part of the city is already covered by a legacy “full fibre” network via local ISP Gigler, which Cityfibre acquired some years ago following the collapse of the i3 Group’s old Fibrecity scheme in the area. The network is often said to cover 21,000 premises, although Gigler has been in limbo for awhile and various bits need to be upgraded before the new network architecture can go live (limited prep work on this started back in March 2019).
The good news is that local contractors appear to be in the process of ramping up their work in the city this week, particularly in the communities north of Wallisdown Road (around Canford Avenue) and further south in Winton. Much of this still relates to the necessary upgrade work for their old legacy FTTH platform and we’re now expecting them to start extending into new areas during the autumn.
All of this ultimately forms part of Phase One under their wider £2.5bn plan (details) to deploy a Gigabit capable “full fibre” broadband network to cover around 1 million premises in 12 UK cities by the end of 2021 (costing c.£500m), before rising to 5 million premises across 37 cities and towns by the end of 2025 (i.e. reaching at least 20% of the UK market with their alternative network platform).
Lucy Cooper, CityFibre’s City Manager for Bournemouth, told ISPreview.co.uk:
“CityFibre already owns a substantial full fibre network in the town that reaches approximately 21,000 homes, so work is currently underway to align it with our national network architecture.
Having this foundation in the town puts Bournemouth at a significant advantage as it will accelerate the roll out when we start work on extending the network to almost every home and business in the town this autumn.”
Cityfibre’s biggest competition for “ultrafast broadband” (100Mbps+) services in the area currently stems from Virgin Media’s 500Mbps+ capable cable broadband and TV network, which already covers the vast majority of premises and will soon be upgraded to Gigabit capability via DOCSIS 3.1 technology. Openreach also has a limited G.fast deployment but at present that isn’t quite in the same league.
One advantage here may be that Vodafone’s related Gigafast Broadband packages currently cost from £28 per month for an unlimited 100Mbps (symmetric speed) service on an 18 month contract, including free installation (you also get a good wireless router), which rises to £48 per month for their top 900Mbps (Gigabit) tier. At present Virgin can only match that price with first year contract discounts (not post-contract pricing) and symmetric Gigabit speeds won’t be viable on their cable network for a long time.