CityFibre, a leading fibre network operator, has signed contracts with four civil engineering firms to kickstart the construction of fibre network infrastructure in challenging areas, funded by government support obtained earlier this year.
CityFibre has revealed the identities of the companies responsible for kickstarting infrastructure development in Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk. Granemore Group, OCU Group, CCN Communications, and Telelink will initiate projects across these counties, while covering multiple locations.
The initial deployment of the network will begin in Cambridgeshire in October, marking the first milestone in CityFibre’s efforts. Cambridgeshire was CityFibre’s inaugural win under the government’s Project Gigabit in March, securing £69 million in funding to connect 45,000 properties.
Subsequently, awards for the other three counties were granted in July, amounting to a total of £318 million. These investments will extend fibre network access to 218,000 residences and businesses.
CityFibre is also contributing its resources, pledging £223 million in addition to the government’s £387 million, bringing the total investment to £610 million.
Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, expressed excitement about launching Project Gigabit, aimed at providing faster and more dependable broadband connectivity to hundreds of thousands of rural homes and businesses previously underserved.
Mesch emphasised the impending obsolescence of legacy copper networks in these regions and the potential for Internet Service Providers to leverage a robust new network for improved customer service.
While Project Gigabit targets areas that are not economically feasible for commercial broadband coverage, CityFibre is confident in the appeal of these regions to its ISP partners, partly due to the absence of competing high-speed, Gigabit-capable infrastructure. Neither Openreach nor smaller community-based fibre builders have ventured into these areas, according to CityFibre.
The success of Project Gigabit is contingent on attracting network builders as it gains momentum. Currently, progress has been sluggish, with the government’s commitment to extending Gigabit-capable broadband coverage to hard-to-reach areas, primarily through fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, being a long-standing initiative.
While the government has earmarked £5 billion for this purpose, it has allocated less than £600 million thus far, with over half going to CityFibre. No new contract awards have been made since July.
In essence, CityFibre’s latest announcement of contractor selection represents a pivotal step towards commencing a substantial Project Gigabit rollout. This development is welcomed by the government, as it emphasises tangible progress rather than the frequently cited headline figure of £5 billion, which had lost its impact without actual implementation.