We may have come a long way from the days of dial-up internet, but the truth is that, by and large, the UK’s digital infrastructure belongs in a different era. Our creaking copper telecommunications infrastructure is holding back our ability to keep pace with modern working trends and putting us at risk of falling even further behind our global rivals.

According to research, over three quarters (78%) of UK consumers feel slowed down and frustrated by their internet connection, with the figure rising among homeworkers (82%) and young people (87%). That leaves the UK in a precarious position as it battles to meet the demands of the modern workplace – and workforce – of the future. Something has to change. For too long, we have been sold ‘fibre’ internet which actually only uses fibre cables for part of the journey.

Between your premises and the local cabinet, data is carried along old-fashioned copper wire, which is notoriously slow and unreliable.

That stands in stark comparison to ‘full fibre’, which uses fibre exclusively.

Yet, although the rollout is gathering pace, just five per cent of premises in the country have access to ultrafast full fibre broadband today – a figure in stark contrast with our European competitors. In Portugal and Italy, more than 80 per cent of premises can access full fibre, while in Spain the figure is above 70 per cent.

That is why CityFibre is on a mission to transform digital connectivity across the UK’s towns and cities and ensure our nation has the infrastructure it needs to genuinely compete on a global stage. In cities up and down the country, we are building full fibre networks that will deliver ‘gold standard’ connectivity for the benefit of all.

As a company we are investing £2.5bn to bring gigabit-speed full fibre broadband to five million UK homes and businesses by 2025.

HeraldScotland:

THE STORY IN SCOTLAND

There is a clear drive to improve connectivity across Scotland and to make our nation one of the best connected places in Europe. And the reason is simple - by meeting that aim, we will be able to unlock our full potential with the benefits to be felt across all aspects of society.

We’re proud to say that Scotland already boasts four Gigabit Cities - Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. In these four locations, we have built ultrafast full fibre networks which are already making significant differences to businesses and public sector organisations, including schools, libraries and community centres. However, the best is yet to come.

To help meet our Gigabit City vision, we entered into a strategic partnership with Vodafone towards the end of 2017. Through our ‘Fibre to the Premises’ (FTTP) programme, we will bring ultrafast Gigabit-capable full fibre into people’s homes – and that means a major expansion of our existing networks in Scotland.

HeraldScotland:

In February, we announced Aberdeen as the first FTTP city in Scotland. We are investing £40m into the Granite City to create a state-of-the-art digital infrastructure, which will put Aberdeen on a level playing field with some of the world’s best connected locations. And with almost every home and business in the city able to access the network, it will be a true game changer.

Our Aberdeen investment announcement was quickly followed up in the summer with confirmation that Edinburgh and Stirling would be the next cities in Scotland to benefit from our FTTP programme, with a combined investment of at least £110m.

And, just last month, we revealed that Glasgow will also be joining the FTTP family.

THE BENEFITS

Full fibre will allow cities to be more innovative and productive, while attracting inward investment and boosting the local economies for generations to come. And it won’t just improve business at home – it will also help businesses take their products or services to an international audience.


The economic benefits are stark. A study by economic consultancy Regeneris says that the network roll-out could drive £148m in direct economic growth across all four cities. Across a 15-year period, access to the network could unlock around £457m in productivity and innovation benefits, while up to £378m could be added to the value of local homes as access to reliable, high speed broadband becomes evermore critical to buyers.

Wider Smart City connectivity, powering innovations from home automation technologies to smart energy networks and intelligent transportation systems, could add as much as £512m while digital enhancements in the delivery of healthcare services could be worth £74m.

Of course, it is not only businesses which will benefit from full fibre. It will also revolutionise the lives of residents, with greater adoption of ‘Smart Home’ tech and an ability to monitor loved ones’ health remotely. It will also transform the ability to work from home – and, of course, improve home entertainment too.

HeraldScotland:

Woodside Primary School.

THE YEAR AHEAD

2019 will be a ground-breaking year for full fibre connectivity in Scotland. Construction work has been ongoing in Aberdeen since the summer and in January the very first premises will see their services go live. The uptake has already been impressive, with thousands of residents signing up for Vodafone’s competitive Gigafast services.

In Stirling, the build programme has just got underway while we expect work in Edinburgh to begin early in 2019. The first homes in these cities will be able to access transformational full fibre from spring of the same year.

As full fibre becomes more ubiquitous, we will truly see the impact it can have. We are embarking on a brand new era of digital connectivity in Scotland, one that will help power a brighter future and create a Gigabit Britain with a worldleading digital economy.

James McClafferty, Head of Regional Developement at CityFibre contributes toward Business HQ, published on the 9th Dec 2018.