Cityfibre and Vodafone look to give ‘gigabit’ boost to millions of Britons
● Areas to benefit from the partnership will be disclosed over coming months
Shares in network infrastructure provider Cityfibre leapt 40 per cent yesterday after it unveiled a tie-up with Vodafone that will bring ultra-fast broadband connectivity to as manyasfivemillionukhomes and businesses.
Under the agreement, some one million homes and businesses across 12 towns and cities will be connected to the new fibre network during the first phase of development, with construction set to start in 2018 and be “largely completed” by 2021.
The two companies will then have the right to extend their deal to cover another four million sites across 50 towns and cities by 2025, creating another competitor to BT’S Openreach business.
The firms have not revealed which regions will benefit from the first phase of the project, but said a list would be released over the coming months, with hopes of connecting the first customers by the end of 2018. Cityfibre is already involved in “gigabit” projects in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Greg Mesch, chief executive of Cityfibre, said: “This agreement will unlock the UK’S full fibre future and is a major step forward in delivering our vision for a Gigabit Britain.
“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 per cent of the UK broadband market.”
Vodafone UK chief executive Nick Jeffery added: “The UK has fallen far behind the rest of the world, trapped by the limited choice available on legacy networks. We look forward to working with Cityfibre to build the gigabit fibre network that the UK needs and deserves.”
The tie-up creates another viable competitor to Openreach, which currently dominates fibre infrastructure across the UK, though Virgin has also emerged as a major rival.
Cityfibre’s shares closed 40.5 per cent or 17.5p higher at 60.75p.
The deal was welcomed by the UK Government, which has been pushing to increase high-speed internet connectivity.
Minister for digital Matt Hancock said: “We warmly welcome this new partnership between Cityfibre and Vodafone as an important step to drive investment and help build a full-fibre Britain. Reaching an additional five million premises by the middle of the next decade would be a significant contribution to connecting modern Britain.”