The UK-based network provider, CityFibre, has announced its collaboration with four civil engineering firms to initiate fibre network infrastructure projects in challenging locations. This has been made possible through government funding won earlier this year.

Partnerships with Granemore Group, OCU Group, CCN Communications and Telelink have been established. These partnerships will expedite fibre infrastructure work in Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk. Cambridgeshire has been identified as the first location for the network rollout in October.

What’s worth noting is CityFibre won this location during the first phase of the government’s Project Gigabit where it received £69 million in funding for a coverage target of 45,000 premises. Later in July, awards for the remaining three counties were declared. The collective funding of £318 million aims to extend fibre network coverage to approximately 218,000 homes and businesses.

In addition to the government’s £387 million, CityFibre will also make a considerable input of £223 million from its internal funds, taking the total investment to a significant £610 million.

The anticipation is palpable. Greg Mesch, CityFibre’s chief executive, shared his enthusiasm about introducing advanced and reliable broadband connectivity to rural homes and businesses. He acknowledged the impending obsoletion of existing copper networks and believes the new network will benefit all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) through improved service offerings.

It is important to examine the locations that will benefit from Project Gigabit as these areas weren’t considered commercially viable for coverage earlier. However, CityFibre expressed its confidence in attracting its ISP customers, largely due to the absence of any equivalent high-speed, Gigabit-capable infrastructure. Neither Openreach nor other local fibre builders ventured into these challenging areas before.

The general consensus is that Project Gigabit will find growing acceptance among network builders, as it continues to make strides.

However, progress on the project has been gradual. Launched by the government to extend Gigabit-capable broadband to hard-to-reach areas, primarily through fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), Project Gigabit came into realization years ago. Despite the project securing £5 billion in government funding, only £600 million has been allocated so far, with more than half going to CityFibre.

This latest announcement by CityFibre is a significant step towards actual groundbreaking on a large scale under Project Gigabit. It resonates well with the government’s desire to get the project moving. The repeatedly emphasized £5 billion figure needs some real actions to back it up, and these network rollouts are just the beginning.