Goldman Sachs-backed CityFibre details £2.5bn full fibre investment

Fibre cables

CityFibre has set out its plans for an over £2 billion investment to accelerate the rollout of full Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) across the UK.

The company was acquired back in June for £538m by Antin Infrastructure Partners and West Street Infrastructure Partners, a fund managed by Goldman Sachs. CityFibre currently has fibre assets in 37 UK towns and cities.

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:

“With a head-start in 37 towns and cities, this full fibre investment plan enables us to further accelerate our rollout, catalysing huge economic growth in regional towns and cities across the country and transforming the UK’s digital future.

Our rollout will soon bring to scale an innovative wholesale network, providing internet service providers and mobile network operators with greater choice and unrivalled technical capabilities, benefitting all sectors of the market.

We now need to work together across Government, Ofcom and industry to create a level-playing field that continues to encourage investment from multiple network operators, so that full fibre can be delivered as quickly and effectively as possible.”

CityFibre aims to offer a faster, more future-proof broadband network over incumbents Virgin Media and Openreach. This will be achieved by delivering fibre broadband into each premise instead of stopping at the cabinet.

Fibre cables are being laid by CityFibre and its contractors in Milton Keynes, Peterborough, and Aberdeen. Plans also include Bristol, Leeds, Edinburgh, and Sheffield.

The investment has been welcomed by the UK government which has a target of 15m full-fibre broadband lines by 2025.

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, commented:

“The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review set out our plans to maximise full fibre coverage. I’m delighted that CityFibre’s investment in 37 towns and cities across the UK will ensure the vast majority of homes and businesses in those areas can access this technology through new fibre networks.

Significant investment from new network operators is critical to deliver our ambition for nationwide coverage. Through our Industrial Strategy we’re working with businesses and Ofcom to ensure effective network competition that supports investment on this scale.”

Openreach, the UK’s largest broadband network, has committed to three million FTTP connections by 2020. The company is hoping to gain investment from broadband giant BT to help it reach 10 million by 2025.

If Openreach manages 10 million FTTP lines by 2025, that leaves five million to hit the government’s target.

CityFibre expects to deliver the remaining five million connections by 2025, but networks from other innovative new companies aiming to gain a foothold in the market – such as TrueSpeed – will also help to cover any shortfall.

CityFibre expects their investment will create 5,000 construction jobs in addition to helping the UK to unlock an expected £85 billion in economic benefits from FTTP.