Peterborough becomes Vodafone’s third gigabit city

Vodafone and CityFibre have jointly announced Peterborough as the next beneficiary of the city-wide roll-out of full fibre infrastructure, after similar projects were announced in Milton Keynes and Aberdeen in recent weeks.

The pair have been working on the promise to deliver full fibre connectivity in 12 cities and reaching one million homes across the UK by 2021, and Peterborough is lucky enough to be on the list. CityFibre has already laid a fibre spin throughout the city measuring 120km, but now the work will begin trenching each street with services set to be available for businesses and customers in early 2019.

“We want to reinvent the home broadband experience,” said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery. “We were the first broadband provider to abolish line rental, we now guarantee line speeds, and from next year, we will offer customers in Peterborough Vodafone Gigafast Broadband. It will revolutionise the way people live and work, from better home entertainment, to remote healthcare monitoring and improved student access to core educational services. I am delighted that Peterborough is poised to become a UK digital leader.”

“Peterborough is the perfect demonstration of the benefits a third competitive digital infrastructure brings the UK market,” said Greg Mesch, CEO at CityFibre. “Our network has delivered superior services, at a lower cost than BT Openreach. It has fuelled economic growth, innovation and inward investment and paved the way for us to bring full fibre to the entire city. Lessening dependence on BT Openreach and Virgin is not only good for Peterborough, its residents and businesses, it is critical for the UK as a whole.”

Part of the reason we like this initiative is that is seems to be a very genuine one. While other providers will begin work in your area once enough residences have signed up or enough deposits have been paid, this one seems clear of conditions. Vodafone and CityFibre will build the network and then market it. It is the ‘built it and they will come’ mentality which is so rare in the telco world.

Hopefully this attitude will encourage other providers to be more aggressive and risk-savvy when it comes to rolling out fibre infrastructure which the UK so desperately needs. Penetration of full fibre is incredibly low in comparison to other nations, and if the UK wants to remain relevant in the digital world of tomorrow, suitable infrastructure is critical. The copper-based network that the vast majority of us rely on right now is not good enough.

Peterborough looked to be a perfect opportunity for Vodafone when we first had a crack at guessing where the next gigacity would be. It currently has low broadband speeds, CityFibre had removed a lot of the risk through already having the fibre spine in place, and the demand is certainly there. Peterborough has been recognised internationally as one of the leading smart cities, with projects which will only going upwards with the new infrastructure.

The Midlands has got a suitable amount of attention now, and Aberdeen ticks the Scottish box for the moment, so we would expect either the South or the North of England to be next on the Vodafone/CityFibre road trip. We would like to say Wales, but Newport is the only place where CityFibre currently has a presence and its only 7km of fibre.

Next best guess would probably be York or Leeds up North, 153km and 117km of fibre laid respectively, or the 71km which has been laid in Portsmouth. York is best bet considering the network, slow average broadband speeds (13 Mbps), a wealthy population, a good university, growing smart city initiatives and commercial ambition of local politicians.