Utility Warehouse switches on broadband through CityFibre

Hot on the heels of the fast-growing independent full-fibre network provider handing out its first build contrasts under the auspices of Project Gigabit roll-outs, CityFibre has signed a deal with energy, broadband, mobile and insurance services provider Utility Warehouse (UW) to support broadband services.

UW has teamed up with CityFibre via its existing relationship with TalkTalk Wholesale, claimed to be the UK’s largest and fastest-growing consumer wholesale provider of fixed connectivity services, to provide full-fibre broadband to homes across the country. Through this partnership, Utility Warehouse said it will be able to maximise TalkTalk’s wholesale platform capability to accelerate full-fibre take-up.

UW customer numbers recently broke through the 900,000 mark, and the business said it’s on track to welcome an extra million customers over the medium- to long-term competitive position. As a service provider available on CityFibre’s network, UW said it’s able to provide super-fast broadband to millions more homes than many of its major competitors, including Sky, BT, Plusnet and EE.

“Record numbers of households across the UK are turning to UW to benefit from big savings on their monthly bills and best-in-class service,” said Utility Warehouse co-CEO Stuart Burnett. “Our partnership with CityFibre maximises TalkTalk Wholesale’s platform capability to provide an even better service to our customers so we can offer them the fastest and most reliable broadband in the UK straight to their front door. And unlike many other suppliers, we also guarantee no mid-contract price rises.”

CityFibre chief marketing officer Dan Ramsay said: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Utility Warehouse, enabling even more people across the UK to enjoy the benefits of our full-fibre network.”

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This network is being expanded through Project Gigabit, in which CityFibre has just awarded its first round of contracts to build partners as it mobilises to deliver four county-wide full-fibre roll-outs under the £5bn Project Gigabit programme.

Project Gigabit was put in place in 2021 to accelerate the UK’s recovery from Covid-19, fire-up high-growth sectors such as tech and the creative industries, and level-up the country, spreading wealth and creating jobs across Britain. At launch, the UK government said the projects it funds will prioritise areas that currently have slow connections and would otherwise have been left behind in broadband companies’ plans.

The delivery plan for Project Gigabit is a response by the UK government to its public consultation, Planning for gigabit delivery in 2021, which sought views on how to spend its £5bn funding commitment for gigabit broadband in hard-to-reach areas, complementing industry investment from the likes of Openreach and Virgin Media to ensure these harder-to-reach areas benefit from the same gigabit broadband as the rest of the country.

By the end of 2025, the UK government is aiming for 85% of the country to have gigabit-capable connectivity, and then nationwide coverage by 2030. In early 2019, just 6% of premises were able to access gigabit-capable broadband.

In May 2023, CityFibre won the rights to a contract to subsidise a £122m roll-out of wholesale full-fibre to up to 45,000 rural homes and businesses in Cambridgeshire, and in July this year won £318m in new contracts as part of the national gigabit broadband scheme to subsidise the roll-out of gigabit-capable infrastructure to 218,000 rural properties in Norfolk, Suffolk and Hampshire. The deployments will in total bring gigabit-capable infrastructure to 715,000 rural properties that would otherwise be excluded from commercial roll-outs.

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For the build out, CityFibre has appointed Granemore Group in Cambridgeshire, OCU Group and CCN Communications in Hampshire, OCU Group in Norfolk, and Telelink, OCU Group and Granemore Group in Suffolk. The appointment of build partners will enable CityFibre to begin the first phase of construction in each location. The first homes passed by the roll-out will be in Cambridgeshire and are expected in October.

All of CityFibre’s roll-outs are now based on XGS-PON full-fibre technology, which currently supports speeds up to 2.5Gbps with the capability to deliver up to 10Gbps in the future.

“We’re excited to get our Project Gigabit roll-outs underway, bringing faster and more reliable broadband connectivity to hundreds of thousands of rural homes and businesses in areas that were at risk of missing out,” said CityFibre chief executive officer Greg Mesch. “With the legacy copper networks in these areas soon to be made obsolete, we look forward to providing all Internet Service Providers a powerful new network from which to better serve their customers.”

CityFibre’s nationwide full-fibre network now passes over three million premises, with more than 2.7 million ready for service. CityFibre said it’s on course to deliver approximately a million ready for service homes in 2023, and remains the second largest full-fibre platform in the UK, with take-up in mature locations now approaching 30%.

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