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Unlocking Britain’s full fibre future

Greg Mesch, Chief Executive | CityFibre

3 min read Partner content

During the pandemic, Britain really sat up and took notice of how important world class digital infrastructure is for powering the economy.

While the existing copper-based legacy networks coped admirably with millions of people working from home, it was just another proof point that the UK needs to upgrade to a whole new digital infrastructure to give it a platform for global success.

Since 2011, CityFibre has argued that Full Fibre should be the standard for what Britain’s next generation of digital infrastructure should be built on. It provides significantly improved network quality and reliability, together with a vastly superior service experience to deliver real benefits for our nation.

However, these benefits are far more tangible than simply having a better Netflix experience. Full Fibre networks can transform the delivery of local government services, help hospitals to collaborate, underpin the rollout of 5G networks, and provide businesses with the capacity they need to handle an increasingly data-rich marketplace.

Highlighting the need for this new digital infrastructure, research by the consultancy Hatch, commissioned by CityFibre, identified over £38bn in potential economic benefits, derived over a fifteen-year period, stemming from CityFibre’s rollout of future-proof Full Fibre infrastructure in 285 cities, towns and villages in England and Scotland.

A third of CityFibre’s rollout locations are in places the Government has identified as most in need of levelling up, providing a crucial economic boost to these regions. This also includes a high proportion of locations ranked as being in the 10% most deprived parts of England.

The North of England is set to be the biggest beneficiary, with our rollout spanning more than 100 locations across North-East, North-West and Yorkshire. Hatch estimates the positive impacts on the North include £8bn in productivity and innovation gains, £1.5bn from a widened workforce, £410m in Local Authority efficiency savings and £4bn in increased house value.

We are making tremendous progress in our £4bn investment programme to roll-out dense Full Fibre infrastructure to up to 8m homes by 2025. Already we are the largest provider of Full Fibre in 26 cities and our rollout has now passed more than 1.5m homes.

We will also deliver gigabit connectivity to millions of people living in multi dwelling units (MDUs) such as blocks of flats. As we begin to plan our networks in each town or city, we start seeking agreement to enter these types of property with the landlord.

Since CityFibre began its rollout in 2018, this process typically now takes us just 3-4 months which is embedded in our wider planning process. It doesn't matter if a landlord works in the private sector or they are a social housing authority, bringing our network to MDUs is key to ensuring that everyone is able to access this new infrastructure.

To support our continued success in this area, we are pleased the Government is taking steps to make the rollout of Full Fibre to MDUs even more efficient through the Product Security & Telecommunications Infrastructure  Bill. On those relatively few occasions where there are problems in securing an agreement, the Bill will help operators and landlords resolve any concerns while crucially maintaining the important balance between the rights of landlords and the need to ensure that everyone benefits from the huge advantages full fibre brings today and the opportunities it delivers well into the future.

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