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Just as the UK government announced a partnership in the south of the UK to extend full-fibre gigabit broadband to areas hitherto unserved by ultrafast connectivity, it acknowledged the role played by the private sector in rebooting the UK as a fibre nation – and just hours later, two companies from the commercial sector, CityFibre and MS3, announced plans to roll out fibre services in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, as well as the East Rising of Yorkshire and neighbouring Lincolnshire.
Wellingborough is the next UK town in line for a multimillion-pound investment from CityFibre to create a UK-wide digital infrastructure that by 2025 with reach up to eight million premises in 285 cities, towns and villages, as well as 800,000 businesses, 400,000 local authority sites and 250,000 5G access points.
CityFibre is set to invest more than £14m in a town-wide network that it said would bring fast and reliable full-fibre-enabled internet services within reach of almost every home and business in Wellingborough. Construction work on the full-fibre network is planned to begin in October 2022.
Assessing what the ramifications of full-fibre connectivity could be for the town and surrounding area, David Howes, North Northamptonshire Council’s executive member for rural communities and localism, said getting the right digital infrastructure in place was a big priority for the council and needed to be fit for the longer term.
“Full-fibre is increasingly important for business success and innovation, for improving the quality of life of our residents and enabling environmental benefits,” he said. “We welcome CityFibre’s multimillion-pound investment in Wellingborough and its wider plans for North Northamptonshire. This includes the work in Kettering which is well underway. Strong commercial investment in our area is critical to boost much-needed full-fibre coverage. This is already reaping rewards, with coverage jumping from 19% in August 2021 to over 35% in August 2022.”
In Wellingborough, services will be available from a range of broadband service providers. Across the UK, CityFibre is already working with launch partner Vodafone to supply full-fibre infrastructure for customers on selected Vodafone Pro Broadband plans, as well as TalkTalk, IDNet, Giganet and Zen Internet.
Meanwhile, just over 130 miles north, MS3 Networks, a wholesale-only fibre network operator, has agreed a new long-term contract with existing wholesale partner Zone Broadband, which will give the well-established internet service provider (ISP) access to MS3’s full-fibre network and enable it to deliver gigabit-capable broadband services to residents in the city of Hull and Lincolnshire towns Grimsby and Scunthorpe.
The first homes were connected to the network this week. North-east-based ISP Zone Broadband was established in 2017 to deliver connectivity solutions across the UK and has worked with MS3 throughout a five-year period to deliver broadband services into large, multiple-dwelling units in the Hull region. The latest announcement will enable Zone Broadband to continue the rapid expansion of its customer base with more than 20,000 homes already served by the ISP.
Commenting on the move, Darren Wright, co-founder and director of Zone Broadband, said: “We are truly excited and privileged to work with MS3 to deliver full-fibre broadband to the residents and business of Hull, Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe. Our network can supply connections to residential customers up to 1Gbps full-fibre and businesses up to 10Gbps in the MS3 network area.”
MS3 Networks CEO Guy Miller added: “We’re very excited to be extending our relationship with Zone Broadband. They are a fantastic, well-established ISP in the UK and by working together there will be significant benefits for many households. Our partnership with Zone Broadband means that together we’re able to help thousands of households access the fastest broadband speeds in the UK and save them money in the process, which is a very powerful message amidst the current economic situation.”
MS3’s fibre network has been rapidly expanding across Hull since it began building FTTP in the west of the city in January. It is also expecting to announce the first homes to go live in the towns of Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe this month.
As an indication of the state of the local connectivity market, research from Uswitch found that the Kingston upon Hull region offered the best value broadband in the UK. The area has a higher level of ultrafast broadband availability than anywhere else in the country, as well as the 11th lowest average house prices.