A couple of weeks back Vodafone announced it would be bringing full-fibre broadband to Milton Keynes as part of broad assault on the broadband scene and now the second gigabit city has been named – Aberdeen.
The initiative with partner CityFibre promises to bring gigabit speed full-fibre broadband to 12 cities in the UK, and has the chance to make some waves in the sector. While the remaining 10 cities are yet to be named, a fair assumption would be areas where download speeds are currently woeful. We had a crack at guessing where would be next, and while Aberdeen was part of our five-city shortlist, we thought Peterborough or Edinburgh. We still think that these cities will be on the Vodafone hitlist, but we were just wide of the mark with Aberdeen.
As part of the initiative a £40 million investment in full fibre infrastructure for the Granite City has been committed. While CityFibre has already laid a 90km fibre spine through the city, the pair will systematically micro-trench each street. When Milton Keynes was announced as a gigabit city, Vodafone confirmed fibre would be laid down every street irrelevant as to whether demand is there. The idea is to give the option to the customers, not seek a commitment from X amount of premises before work begins.
Fibre optic cables will be used for every stage of the connection, from the customer’s home or business to the Internet, allowing Vodafone (as the customer facing half of the partnership) to offer broadband speeds which it hopes will hit 1 Gbps. Whether these speeds will be hit remains to be seen, but considering only 3% of the UK have FTTP connections, Aberdeen will be in a very enviable position before too long. Work on delivering the city-wide fibre network will begin in July.
“Our Gigabit broadband services, delivered over CityFibre’s new full fibre networks, will help Aberdeen build on its credentials in innovation and as one of the best places to start a business,” said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery. “It will also transform consumers’ daily lives through superior Internet access. We’re committed to helping businesses, entrepreneurs and residents embrace the new gigabit society in Aberdeen, the technological heart of Scotland”
“Our commitment to Aberdeen is further evidence of the action CityFibre is taking to deliver Britain’s full fibre future,” said Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre. “Our existing network in Aberdeen provides us with an eighteen-month head-start on a full fibre roll-out to nearly every home and business in the city. With similar FTTP backbone networks already built in over 40 UK towns and cities, our contribution to national full fibre coverage is well underway. We are getting on with the job of building Gigabit Britain – at full speed.”
While there hasn’t been a notable reaction from incumbents in Milton Keynes just yet, we would expect BT to start ramping up it G.Fast game in cities were speeds are poor. While there has been little competition in those cities to date, Vodafone could easily capture frustrated customers with a strong speed offering.
A lot will of course depend on pricing (which will be announced later in the year – Vodafone promises it will be competitive to tempt customers away from copper) and where is next on the gigabit roadshow, but these cities where terrible broadband has become the norm will welcome a disruption to the status quo.