Customers in Cambridge, Leeds and Southend-on-Sea next in line to receive gigabit-capable fibre optic broadband.

Cambridge, Leeds and Southend-on-Sea are each set to benefit from multimillion-pound digital investments exceeding £170m, as part of Vodafone and CityFibre’s plans to bring full fibre broadband to one million UK homes and businesses by 2021.

They bring the total number of towns and cities confirmed to receive full fibre deployments to ten, representing over £465m of committed infrastructure investment in the programme by CityFibre to date.

Full fibre broadband offers users a significantly superior and more reliable online experience, with download speeds 20 times faster and upload speeds 150 times faster than the average fixed broadband connection in the UK.

With CityFibre’s rollout of new gigabit-capable fibre-optic cables, the partnership is committed to supporting the UK’s digital future by accelerating the ‘copper switchover’. This is the process of replacing slow copper-wire broadband connections with gigabit-capable full fibre to the home. Full fibre is currently only available to 5% of UK households but this is now expanding rapidly.

Once CityFibre has installed fibre infrastructure in each city, customers are able to benefit from Vodafone’s Gigafast Broadband service. This offers faster and more reliable broadband with both upload and download speeds of at least 900Mbps. Since mid-September 2018, hundreds of customers in Milton Keynes have already placed orders for Vodafone Gigafast Broadband, and residents and businesses in Aberdeen and Peterborough will be eligible for the service from early November 2018.

Greg Mesch, CEO at CityFibre, said: “Our roll-out is gathering pace. We have made investment commitments that will transform the digital capabilities of ten towns and cities forever. The full fibre age is taking hold across the UK and CityFibre is leading the charge. Britain should prepare for a copper-to-fibre switchover as this aging technology cannot keep up with the UK’s connectivity needs.”

Vodafone UK Chief Executive Nick Jeffery added: “Overhauling the nation’s broadband is a vital undertaking that we’re proud to be a part of. By bringing the benefits of full fibre to more and more cities and towns, from Stirling to Southend-on-Sea, one million homes across the country can benefit from this world-class technology.”

Detailed city-wide planning is already underway in Cambridge, Leeds and Southend-on-Sea, and CityFibre is working closely with each local authority to co-ordinate the build and maximise the benefits of full fibre. CityFibre has already invested in spine networks in each of these locations, working with a range of partners to connect public services such as schools, libraries, offices and businesses. Construction has already begun in Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Aberdeen, with work set to start in Edinburgh, Stirling, Coventry and Huddersfield before the end of this year.

Comments from Leeds, Southend-on-Sea and Cambridge local authority representatives:

Leeds: 
Cllr James Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for resource and sustainability said: “Leeds City Council is delighted to hear about CityFibre’s ambitious plans to develop a new full fibre network in Leeds. Encouraging and facilitating investment from private sector providers like CityFibre is an important part of our strategy to help us realise our ambition that all premises in the district, residential and commercial, are able to access gigabit capable services and take advantage of new technologies and new ways of living and working.

“Our Inclusive Growth Strategy sets out our ambitions for Leeds to be recognised as a digital city where a strong economy ensures that everyone in our city can reach their full potential. CityFibre joins other key institutions who have made pledges to signal their ongoing commitment to Leeds and to investing their time and resources to make it the best city in the UK to live, work, study and do business.”

Southend-on-Sea: 
Cllr Andrew Moring, cabinet member for infrastructure at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “We are delighted that Southend-on-Sea is at the forefront of full-fibre roll-out – the finest digital infrastructure the UK has ever seen. This significant investment into the Borough is very welcome and follows on from the delivery of a 90km dark fibre network.

“Digitally connecting people and services together is at the heart of what we are doing, and implementing an ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises infrastructure across Southend-on-Sea will help us to deliver our ambitious digital strategy and smart city aspirations.

“This inward investment will help us attract businesses, help develop our emerging creative and tech sector and encourage hundreds of business start-ups. With this extension of the project, the full benefits will soon be felt by everyone who lives and works here.”

Cambridge: 
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “It’s great news for Cambridge businesses and residents that infrastructure firm CityFibre is to invest over £20m in our city in their next wave of citywide full fibre networks.

“This is a major boost for our world leading digital and high tech businesses and research organisations wanting to grow and develop in Cambridge, who need the best possible digital infrastructure to develop to their maximum potential, working with partners across Europe and the globe.

“CityFibre has made a major difference to cities by similar investment across the UK and we welcome them to Cambridge and the major extra investment they are bringing.”

Cllr Ian Bates, Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee, which leads the Connecting Cambridgeshire digital connectivity programme, said: “Cambridgeshire is a leading digital county and we welcome this investment by CityFibre bringing full fibre to Cambridge, helping to ensure that we have the digital infrastructure we need for our businesses and communities to thrive.”

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