Vodafone aims to compete with BT’s Openreach with massive 1Gbps broadband investment

Vodafone and CityFibre have announced a partnership which will bring FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) to approaching five million homes and businesses across the UK.

In other words, this will be Gigabit-capable fibre (1000Mbps) which runs directly into the home or office in question (as opposed to fibre-to-the-cabinet, which still uses the phone line for the last leg of the connection from the cabinet).

The fibre rollout will begin in the first half of next year with a million premises expected to be hooked up by 2021, and a further four million homes and business premises expected to be connected by 2025.

Openreach has previously said that it’s aiming for two million full fibre connections by 2020.

Post-construction, Vodafone will initially have exclusive rights to sell the fibre connections to punters, although this will only be for a certain period of time (which wasn’t specified by the companies).

Full fibre diet

As CityFibre notes, the government has a target of connecting 10 million premises to full fibre by 2022, and this will go some way towards the end – in fact, it will achieve half that target number ultimately (although not by 2022, but rather 2025).

Rob Hilborn, Head of Strategy at Broadband Genie, commented: “Full fibre broadband needs to be the focus for us going forward. Openreach has been working on a rollout of G.fast technology which is a cost effective upgrade on existing broadband infrastructure, but it still feels like a stop-gap measure.

“Deploying FTTP around the UK won't be cheap, but it's a long term investment that will provide us with future-proof connections. However, while the focus for this investment is likely to be on cities, in the long term we will need a plan for the rest of the country as to not leave them behind and risk widening the digital divide further.”

An Openreach spokesperson contacted us with the following statement: “We welcome this news and the competition. As we’ve said consistently – investing in more Fibre-to-the-Premises technology across the UK will need commitment from the whole industry.

“We hope this plan to reach one million front doors by 2021 can complement our own programme of upgrading two million premises, which is already well under way. We have also been consulting our customers on an ambition to reach 10 million homes and businesses with FTTP by the mid-2020s, and we’ll give an update on that process before the end of this year.”