Broadband News

CityFibre responds to LGA Full Fibre Kitemark call

Our analysis of coverage of full fibre for new premises has been used by the LGA to highlight the need for a simple Kitemark to highlight that new homes and business premises have full fibre infrastructure available when people move in and now CityFibre has responded.

Access to high-quality internet access is of enormous importance to UK residents, with around one in three admitting that it has become as important to them as electricity, gas and water, and a quarter going as far as saying that they couldn’t function without it.

We also know that having access to next generation internet access delivered over full fibre infrastructure can add significant value to property – a figure that’s been calculated to be worth at least £7bn nationally over the next 15 years.

Full fibre is the only infrastructure capable of delivering the reliable gigabit speed services and futureproofed capacity the UK needs. We fully support the LGA’s call for the launch of a FTTP kitemark, which will give full fibre - the gold standard in internet connectivity - the status and recognition it deserves.

Consumers have been misled for decades by advertising practices which allow copper-based broadband products to be advertised as ‘fibre’. The introduction of a kitemark, however, will help consumers know what they are paying for and what standard they should expect.

By improving awareness and increasing demand for that gold standard, consumers, Government, local authorities and industry can collaboratively drive the roll-out of full fibre across the UK, helping it to catch up with the rest of the world.

Ultimately, this isn’t just about residential broadband speeds, this is about driving real and meaningful economic growth in all parts of the country for the long term. The FTTH Council in the USA, has calculated that providing full fibre to just half of all premises in any given location could result in a 1.1% rise in annual GDP. This figure applied to our own research based on 100 UK town and city economies, suggests an economic impact in excess of £120bn. This is a figure that cannot be ignored.

CityFibre, in partnership with Vodafone, is committed to delivering full fibre infrastructure to at least 1 million homes and businesses and our roll-out is underway. However, given the size of the prize for the UK, all players – and this includes local authorities, government, regulators, network builders and industry as a whole - need to ensure that combined, we deliver the maximum possible coverage in the shortest possible time. Only then will we unlock and unleash the full economic potential of full fibre, and that of the communities in which it is built.

Mark Collins, Director Strategy & Policy at CityFibre

The CityFibre statement is what we would expect from the operator and while we can debate the economic benefits of a shift from VDSL2/cable to full fibre and the precise figures what is missing from the statement is any firm commitment by CityFibre to address the issues of new build premises. The partnership of 1 million premises with Vodafone is of course much needed as an additional boost for the cities/towns it happens in but we have asked CityFibre what commitments they have for premises built after the roll-outs in an area have left and what resources are online for developers in a CityFibre area so they can see what engagement options they have.

On the topic of full fibre being the only infrastructure capable of delivering reliable Gigabit speeds, then the DOCSIS 3.1 coax fibre hybrid system needs mentioning and is behind the UnityMedia plans to make Bochum, Germany the fastest city in the country and already they have the coax fibre network selling a 400 Mbps service for €39.99 per month (20 Mbps upload, with normal speeds of 350 Mbps/18 Mbps and minimum speeds of 160 Mbps/10 Mbps) and Gigabit options in the pipeline. Full fibre should be more reliable in terms of up time as you don't have lots powered cable hardware in the streets, but in terms of throughput the GPON FTTP networks that will be part of the Vodafone roll-out have bandwidth sharing in the local loop and Vodafone is NOT going to guarantee 1 Gigabit speeds for 1 million customers, so average speeds at peak time are going to flucuate just like any large consumer broadband service. UnityMedia is owned by Liberty Global who own Virgin Media in the UK, but as yet DOCSIS 3.1 appears to be on the backburner but they may invest more money into the service if they believe full fibre operators are going to see their customer base shrink.

The battle in the UK to hold the crown of the largest residential full fibre network will be interesting, and it is possible that with the Project Lightning roll-outs by Virgin Media combined with their roll-outs to new build premises which are often using RFOG (Radio Frequency over glass where final conversion to DOCSIS takes place in the home so the usual cable modem and TV box can be used) and actually delivering fibre to the premises that they may keep pace with CityFibre, with the 112,000 we have marked as part of the RGON FTTP network they have a bigger full fibre footprint currently. We don't currently include this 112,000 in the FTTP coverage figures, the reason being that the services sold by Virgin Media are identical to their DOCSIS network but with the political focus on full fibre maybe its time to change that counting policy.

Update 12:20pm CityFibre has got back to us and the response is copied in below:

CityFibre is planning to deliver city-wide FTTP builds and planning for future demand, including new builds, is core to our business model and approach. We work closely with each local council to account for any areas of the town or city in which new developments are planned within our network design. We also engage directly with developers, often introduced by the local authority, that are active in each of our project areas.

Developers can register via the enquiry form on our website and from this page www.cityfibre.com/property

The link for property developers has something of a marketing slant since it has a graphic for 4 million homes, CityFibre is some years away from a FTTP footprint of four million homes but we believe this means that cities with a CityFibre presence add up to 4 million homes.

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