Vodafone has mounted an attack on the United Kingdom broadband market by backing plans to connect up to five million homes with new ultrafast fibre-optic lines, increasing pressure on BT to invest in upgrades and putting itself in more direct competition with Virgin Media.
"The UK has fallen far behind the rest of the world, trapped by the limited choice available on legacy networks".
Construction of the first phase, which will see one million premises connected to the network, is due to start in the first half of 2018 and is expected to be completed by 2021.
However, a Vodafone spokesperson told TMN: "This agreement is very focussed on offering fibre broadband to the consumer and enterprises rather than backhaul". The agreement only addresses the consumer side with Vodafone and they have some exclusivity during the build cycle.
The new network would provide competition for the BT-owned Openreach which sells wholesale access to its copper and fibre-based network to most of the UK's ISPs.
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The deal will up the pressure on BT, which owns the majority of Britain's broadband infrastructure through subsidiary Openreach.
"We look forward to working with CityFibre to build the gigabit fibre network that the United Kingdom needs and deserves".
When asked if the announcement was at all influenced by the UK's imminent departure from the EU, Mesah said: "We've been working on this for 6 years and 10 months".
"Any operator that chooses to install their own fibre or go to a third party is going to mean one less customer". The first towns and cities will be announced early next year.
Vodafone and CityFibre believe their partnership will help to "bridge Britain's fibre gap", with world-class gigabit-capable fibre-to-the-premises connections being brought to households, businesses and public sector sites including schools and hospitals.
Openreach has committed to delivering "ultrafast" broadband using a combination of FTTP and G.Fast - a technology which speeds up copper lines - to the majority of the United Kingdom within a decade. It is consistent with Vodafone Group's capital-smart fixed infrastructure strategy that aims for an optimal mix of build/strategic partnership/wholesale/buy approaches in fixed broadband, says Vodafone, which claims it's the fastest growing broadband provider in Europe, already marketing high-speed broadband services to 99 million European homes.
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