Vodafone Partners With UK Fiber to Bring Ultrafast Broadband
Vodafone will partner with fiber network developer CityFibre to bring ultrafast broadband to UK homes and businesses by 2025, in a direct challenge to dominant rival BT.
The network is expected to reach one million homes in 12 towns and cities by 2021, and could be extended to another four million in 50 locations by 2025, with construction commencing in 2018.
The move throws down the gauntlet to BT’s Openreach division and Virgin Media by creating a third substantial network within the UK that will lay fiber direct to doors of consumers.
Vodafone will have exclusive rights to market the network during the construction phase with the first customers expected to go live from next year. Sky, TalkTalk and other companies would then be free to use the network.
The first cities to get the fiber network have not been revealed as Vodafone does not want to alert Openreach to speed up its strategy for those regions, according to a person briefed on the plans.
"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," Vodafone UK Chief Executive Nick Jeffery said.
BT is under huge pressure from the government to speed up the pace of its fiber network roll-out.
Jeffery said Vodafone's deal with CityFibre makes it more likely that BT will have to stump up more of the cost itself.
The former monopoly's earnings have already been dragged down by problems at its unit that provides consulting and network services to businesses and faces higher costs for pensions and sports rights.
Vodafone had said in September it was looking at laying its own ultrafast full-fiber broadband connections if it could find partners to share the costs.
"The Vodafone and CityFibre partnership represents one of the most significant developments in UK telecommunications since the launch of ADSL broadband around 17 years ago," they said.
Openreach said it welcomed Vodafone's announcement as investment in more fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology across the UK "will need commitment from the whole industry".
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