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FibreNation acquisition to bolster CityFibre design and planning capabilities

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UK altnet, CityFibre has acquired broadband network provider, FibreNation from TalkTalk Group, with the aim of increasing its roll-out target from five to eight million premises.

TalkTalk established FibreNation in 2018, under an independent chair, with the ambition to roll-out full-fibre infrastructure to around three million UK homes and businesses. This was four years after a joint venture between TalkTalk, Sky and CityFibre was launched to deploy services across the City of York – a venture which resulted in TalkTalk becoming FibreNation’s first customer. The wholesale broadband provider still operates this network, where approximately 49,000 premises can currently access gigabit speed broadband services from TalkTalk.

The £4bn investment will secure TalkTalk as a major wholesale customer across CityFibre’s consumer and business markets. The altnet has also signed an agreement with Vodafone to modify the terms of its existing, long-term partnership, enabling it to open up its networks to other consumer internet service providers (ISPs) sooner than planned.

The addition of FibreNation’s experienced team will bolster CityFibre’s design, planning and deployment capabilities as it continues to scale. This is designed to enable the expansion of the Gigabit City Investment Programme across more than 100 towns and cities. It is estimated that up to 7,000 construction jobs outside London will be created at the project’s peak. To support the expansion, CityFibre will establish a Northern Centre of Excellence, increasing its design and build capabilities to help deliver a new generation of digital infrastructure throughout the North of the country.

Greg Mesch, chief executive at CityFibre, said: ‘Today’s announcement establishes CityFibre as the UK’s third national digital infrastructure platform, allowing millions more consumers and businesses to benefit from access to faster, more reliable services. The UK is a service-based economy, and this runs best on full-fibre. Ensuring national coverage is critical and this can only be achieved by driving infrastructure competition at scale. This deal demonstrates the appetite from industry to see it established.’

Tristia Harrison, chief executive of TalkTalk, added: ‘This agreement is good news for TalkTalk and good news for Britain’s fibre roll-out. Our investment over the last five years and the excellent work delivered by the FibreNation team, combined with CityFibre’s well-established platform, will support wide-geographical reach of full-fibre and further drive competition and customer take-up in the market.’

TalkTalk and CityFibre will begin systems integration in preparation for the future launch of TalkTalk’s full-fibre services. The acquisition of FibreNation is subject to TalkTalk shareholder approval.

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