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Alternative providers could join forces to rival BT

Friday, October 31st 2014 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The UK’s gigabit broadband providers can work together to create a nationwide network to rival BT, according to a CityFibre director.

Mark Collins, director of strategy and public affairs, told Cable.co.uk that CityFibre would not be able to create such a network on its own.

But asked if providers could combine to create an alternative to BT he replied “absolutely”.

“You will continue to see a rollout of infrastructure which is an alternative to BT and that momentum will build,” he said.

CityFibre builds and operates fibre optic networks and is planning to turn 25 of the UK’s ‘second tier’ cities into what it calls ‘Gigabit Cities’. York, Peterborough, Coventry and Aberdeen have signed up so far.

Mr Collins said the villages surrounding these cities and the large buildings within them were opportunities to work with companies like Gigaclear and Hyperoptic.

He said a number of villages near Peterborough will have fibre optic networks built by Gigaclear with backhaul connectivity provided by CityFibre.

“Around York, we have connections that come out to lots of small villages,” he added.

“The reason we come out to those, is because there is a school or a library or something we have come out to as part of a broader public sector project.

“So we’ve got fibre connectivity which can link back into our network, and gives a natural ability for Gigaclear to build their model in those locations.

“We respect what they do - fibre-to-the-premise in rural community. That’s not what we do, but we do provide fibre connectivity, backhaul connectivity into those rural villages.

“You take the CityFibre model – you start deploying these Gigabit City urban networks across the UK, there’s a doughnut that can be put around all of those which will be addressable by Gigaclear, and Gigaclear’s footprint over time can continue to expand out.

“Inside the cities, one of the challenges on the large multi-dwelling units is the internal cabling and the rights of way inside those.

“Hyperoptic’s model is to target large buildings and to do all the internal cabling inside that building but then they need good quality fibre connectivity to the basement of the building.

“While we haven’t yet done a project with Hyperoptic we are in constant dialogue with [managing director] Dana Tobak to say ‘where you’re taking a BT fibre into the building and you’re doing the stuff inside the building, effectively you’re competing with BT so you’re working with the guy who’s going to not want you to be in the building’.

“From CityFibre’s perspective we’re never going to do that internal building stuff, that’s a niche we’re not going to be in.

“Where there are large buildings, large blocks of flats and apartments within our cities, there is a logical collaboration with Hyperoptic.

“Ourselves and Hyperoptic have not particularly overlapped as yet because they’ve been focussing on the big ‘tier one’ cities but as they start moving out to the regional cities then it makes absolutely perfect sense that we then collaborate. It’s better for them to be on our network than on BT’s network.

“In some of the rural areas we’ve had some dialogue with some of the wireless providers – the likes of UK Broadband and so on – and we do quite a bit inside the cities with wireless as well.

“We’re just a component part of that bigger eco-system and if we can provide and enable a Gigaclear to succeed then that’s mutually beneficial.”

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