Cityfibre Exclusive Deal with Vodafone for FTTP Broadband

On 9th November 2017, Cityfibre and Vodafone announced their partnership in bringing ultra fast gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to the UK.

Cityfibre, a company who describe themselves as the “UK’s builder of Gigabit Cities and national alternative provider of wholesale fibre network infrastructure”, will build, own and manage the FTTP [Fibre to the Premises] broadband network, granting a ten year period of exclusivity for Vodafone to market their services.
Vodafone UK chief executive Nick Jeffery said:
“Vodafone is already playing the leading role in building the Gigabit Society across Europe by providing customers with high-speed, high-quality broadband. 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 aim of this partnership is to provide full fibre broadband to up to 5 million homes and businesses in the UK by 2025 which covers 50% of the UK Government target of 10 million premises by 2025. Construction of the network to provide services to 1 million premises is due to begin within the first few months of 2018, with a view to this being complete by 2021. It is also anticipated that as 5G begins to roll out in the early 2020’s, Vodafone will take the opportunity to upgrade their fibre networks to their telecommunication sites, with the FTTP fibre network capable of providing the bandwidth necessary for 5G, and technologies beyond, to operate.

As ever, with newer and faster technology, comes an impact on the landlords of the properties and land through which this fibre network is proposed to run. The good news is that FTTP is thought to be one of the most “future-proof” types of technology, since there are no foreseeable devices that could use more bandwidth than can currently be sent via these fibre optic cables. This means that once installed, disruption to the premises is likely to be minimal, especially given that most modern fibre optic cables can be expected to perform reliably for around 40 years at least.

The downside of FTTP is that the installation process is often disruptive and expensive to provide to customers. Installation, generally in urban areas, involves digging large trenches in which to install the fibre cables underground. This can be particularly problematic where there are water or gas lines installed or main roads to dig up, resulting in a high cost to both the operator and the consumer. As a result, the aptly named Cityfibre will initially only be rolling out their services to what they consider the main 40 cities in the UK, including Aberdeen, Manchester, Newport and London. These are cities in which they already have networks in place and where they anticipate high levels of demand for the highest broadband speeds.

Vodafone’s press release of 9th November 2017 suggests that the focus will be done on a city-by-city approach, rather than rolling out their services across the UK simultaneously.
In summary, it is likely that landlords of urban commercial properties are likely to begin receiving approaches for FTTP in their premises within the first half of 2018. Although it is not yet known which city Vodafone & Cityfibre will be heading to initially, they are likely to make approaches to landlords well before beginning their construction phase in a city, to ascertain demand for their services. If landlords do receive such an approach, either for a new installation, or to upgrade an existing wayleave installation, then it is important that they seek advice from specialist telecoms and wayleave surveyors such as Cell:cm to ensure that they are getting the best terms achievable and to protect their interests in both the short term and longer term.

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