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Analyst: New players drive UK broadband connections

A report on the outlook for the UK telecommunications sector from global source of critical information and insight IHS suggests that new players in the high-speed broadband market will boost connections in the UK by 70 per cent over the next five years, from almost nine million at the end of 2015 to more than 15.5 million by the end of 2020.

“While BT is working on expanding superfast services using VDSL (FTTC) and G.Fast, alternative operators have entered the market using FTTP to increase their coverage,” said Fiona Vanier, senior analyst at IHS Technology.

Infrastructure supplier CityFibre was founded in January 2011 and now owns and operates 618km of local access networks in more than 50 UK towns and cities. By 2020, CityFibre is planning to increase its coverage area from 15 per cent of all UK households to 20 per cent. “This means that Internet Service Providers looking to move into certain towns or cities may have the option of choosing CityFibre as a wholesaler instead of BT,” Vanier said. “Key players in the UK broadband market, such as Sky and TalkTalk, already recognise CityFibre as a viable alternative to BT Openreach, and a number of significant agreements have been signed with CityFibre over the last 12 to 18 months.”

CityFibre is concentrating on exploiting its existing networks in small- to medium-sized towns and cities across the country. As a result of this strategy, CityFibre has launched six gigabit city projects in York, Peterborough, Coventry, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Internet Service Providers operating in these cities can offer attractive alternative high-speed products completely independent from BT Openreach and in direct competition with BT Infinity. In contrast, companies such as Gigaclear and organisations such as B4RN are targeting potential customers in UK-based rural areas which are of minimal commercial interest to BT.

Another company pushing the boost in connections is Gigaclear. “Gigaclear has found its niche in the market,” Vanier said. “With take-up rates as high as 40 per cent, it is clear that this company is expanding quickly in key areas in the UK.”

When a community on the edge of its coverage area is interested in being connected it has to raise investment to cover the costs associated with expansion. Volunteers and landowners are responsible for organising viable routes and wayleaves, and laying the ducts to receive the fibre optic cables.

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