cityfibre ftth narrow trench safe dig

Fibre optic developer Cityfibre has today announced that they’ve started the construction phase of their new £40m project to rollout a 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network across the East Midlands (England) town of Northampton, which is being supported by UK ISP partner Vodafone.

At present the company already operates a 45km long Dark Fibre network in Northampton, although this is currently only used to serve public sector sites and specific businesses. Nevertheless this should serve as a good starting point for their new FTTH network, which aims to reach “almost every home and business in the town” (they usually do 85%+ coverage of each city or town).

Construction work has officially commenced in the Hardingstone area, with Wootton, Grange Park and Collingtree to follow soon. Assuming all goes well then the first premises will be able to connect to their network from early 2020, with works projected to be “largely complete” by the end of 2022.

The new deployment forms part of Cityfibre’s wider £2.5bn investment plan, which aims to cover around 1 million homes across 12 UK cities and towns with Gigabit capable “full fibre” broadband by the end of 2021 (Phase One) and then 5 million premises across 37 cities and towns by the end of 2025 (here).

Jonathan Nunn, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said:

“Northampton is increasingly a thriving hub of digital activity with the entrepreneurial spirit to make the very best of the opportunities offered by full fibre.

CityFibre’s Gigabit City development will be of enormous benefit to residents and businesses in Northampton, offering the kind of data transfer speeds required for the modern digital landscape, and this will doubtless also help us progress our redevelopment plans for the town which are really beginning to take shape.”

James Cushing, CityFibre’s City Manager for Northampton, said:

“Northampton is one step closer to becoming a Gigabit City with work now underway to install state-of-the-art digital infrastructure across the town. Soon the first homes will be able to benefit from full fibre, meaning they’ll not only be able to access all of the latest entertainment and services at lightning speed but the smart home technology this enables will give people the freedom to work from home with ease.

Northampton is one of the most entrepreneurial regions in the country and this investment comes at a critical time for its forward-thinking business community and ambitious regeneration plans. Transformational full fibre connectivity can drive innovation and productivity, ultimately giving businesses the platform they need to realise their growth ambitions. And it won’t just improve business locally – it will also help businesses take their products or services to an international audience.”

The main competition for Cityfibre’s network in the town, at least in terms of “ultrafast broadband” class connectivity, will undoubtedly come from cable operator Virgin Media and their soon to be Gigabit capable network (currently 500Mbps max but 1Gbps by 2021); this already reaches the vast majority of premises.

Nevertheless the Gigafast Broadband packages from Vodafone currently cost from just £28 per month for an unlimited 100Mbps (average symmetric speed) service on an 18 month contract, including free installation and a good wireless router, which rises to £48 for 900Mbps.

Virgin might be able to match the downloads and come close on pricing, but they can’t do the same for uploads. On the other hand Virgin does have a strong Pay TV service to offer.