CityFibre awards £1.5bn to fund full-fibre construction across 27 towns and cities

CityFibre has announced a £1.5bn investment, awarding construction contracts for full-fibre deployment across 27 towns and cities. This is part of the UK digital infrastructure platform’s previously announced recruitment and training programme, through which it plans to create up to 10,000 network construction jobs over the next three years to support its national broadband roll-out.

The background to the programme is the UK government’s desire to accelerate the delivery of gigabit-capable broadband across the country by 2025, a legislative journey that began in January 2020. The 2020 Budget statement confirmed the government’s commitment to invest a total of £5bn to roll out full-fibre broadband across the country.

In June 2020, CityFibre announced a three-year recruitment and training programme to provide up to 10,000 people with jobs upgrading its digital infrastructure to be fit for purpose for the modern age.

Overall in the full-fibre roll-out, CityFibre’s Accelerated Tenders Award Programme (ATAP) is expected to see, by the end of 2021, network construction under way in more than 100 towns and cities across the UK. The latest part of the programme aims to address up to three million premises, and the funding will create more than 3,750 local network construction jobs across the UK.

The conclusion of the first phase of ATAP brings CityFibre’s total build contracts up to £2.5bn. With 26 build partners now under contract, its construction supply chain is secured for roll-outs targeting more than five million premises across 66 towns and cities.

Construction partners awarded contracts under ATAP include: Callan in Solihull; CCN for Chichester & Arun, Poole, Christchurch; Instalcom in Reading; J McCann, Nottingham; IQA, North Tyneside; Kier in Bath, Cheltenham, Charlton Kings, Gloucester, Weston super Mare, Worcester; Lanes for Brighton & Hove, Chatham & Gillingham, Crawley and Horsham, Eastbourne; MAP, Middlesbrough; Network Plus, Bradford; NMCN in Barnsley, Halifax; O’Connor’s, Sheffield; Oakway, Plymouth; PMK in Renfrew and Glasgow South; Telent in Blackpool, Chester, Preston; Volker in Bracknell and Maidenhead. Plymouth also formally becomes a Gigabit City as part of the Gigabit City Investment Programme.

“By awarding these full-fibre network construction contracts, we can ensure we have the construction resources we need to get the job done, bringing world-class digital infrastructure a step closer to millions across the UK,” said CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch. “Each contract represents hundreds of jobs and upskilling opportunities for local people, building the networks Britain needs to survive and to thrive in a digital age.”

Before the end of the year, CityFibre will launch the second phase of ATAP, through which it will award build contracts for up to three million more premises. This will commit construction resource across the entirety of its up to eight million Gigabit City Investment Programme target, which it is on track to have substantially completed by 2025 in support of the UK government’s target for national coverage.

The scaling of CityFibre’s roll-out is being supported by engineering, construction and project management company Bechtel, which in September 2020 was appointed to accelerate the mobilisation of CityFibre’s construction partners and to maximise the productivity of each roll-out project.

Bechtel is best known for delivering major infrastructure projects across the globe and has extensive experience in the communications infrastructure market. It has overseen metro fibre and fibre to the premises (FTTP) roll-outs for AT&T, Verizon, XO and Google Fibre in the US and the Viatel Cerce Pan-European Network.

UK digital secretary Oliver Dowden said: “It is our national mission to connect every corner of the country to lightning fast gigabit speeds and we are set to spend £5bn to achieve this. But we cannot do it alone, so I welcome CityFibre’s substantial investment to plug millions of homes and businesses into the social and economic benefits of next-generation broadband and create thousands of jobs in the process.”