Alternative network operator CityFibre plans to roll out fibre network in more than 500 business parks in the UK – addressing a gap in the broadband market that has not been satisfied by the incumbent, the company says.
More than 22,000 small and medium businesses could benefit from low-cost access to gigabit-speed internet services delivered over the new infrastructure in or near CityFibre’s existing networks. An entry level, ultra-fast, symmetrical service will be available at an expected retail price of £120 per month.
The first business parks targeted for upgrade are in the company’s Gigabit City projects in Coventry, Bristol and Peterborough.
Access to fibre connections will be made available to internet service providers (ISPs) and resellers on a wholesale basis, enabling these partners to market a new generation of affordable, ultra-fast internet services. These will provide a major digital advantage to local businesses, dramatically increasing their productivity, the operator says.
The roll-outs will also support the economic development of key development areas such as the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.
CityFibre has already proven the demand for fibre connectivity in business parks in several of its Gigabit City projects. Pre-registration rates of better than 60 per cent have been recorded in many of the business parks surveyed on the current footprint. CityFibre intends to use what it has learned about local market engagement, demand aggregation and product pricing to maximise customer take-up of services.
The announcement marks a new phase in the competition that CityFibre provides to BT Openreach (see CityFibre expands nationally with KCOM network purchase). Already the second largest wholesale provider in the UK, CityFibre's aim is to expand to 100 cities by 2025, which would equate to fibre access for 60 per cent of UK businesses and 40 per cent of homes outside of London.
Greg Mesch, Chief Executive of CityFibre, commented: “After decades of underinvestment, Openreach’s antiquated network infrastructure is strangling our nation’s businesses. It is up to CityFibre to provide them with a viable and fit for purpose alternative, delivering a new generation of connectivity for our SMEs, the lifeblood of the UK economy.”
“Access to full-fibre connectivity is the only long term solution, and this is currently either unavailable or so cost-prohibitive that it has remained out of reach for most. By extending our fibre to the premises roll-out to business parks across our national network, we are bringing affordable, world-class connectivity to the doorsteps of thousands of businesses for the first time.”
Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock praised the move: "In last week's Autumn Statement we committed to investing another £1 billion in the UK's digital infrastructure and to support the delivery of full-fibre broadband. Fibre is the future, so today's announcement by CityFibre is another boost to help achieve our ambitious goals. It will give small businesses across the country access to fast and reliable broadband and encourage other emerging providers to scale up so we remain a world-leading economy."