As expect, CityFibre has today announced that they’ve officially made a new 2.5Gbps (symmetric) speed consumer UK broadband tier available at wholesale for their retail ISPs to sell on to customers, which harnesses the operator’s new 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP / XGS-PON) network.
The launch doesn’t come as much of a surprise because we’ve already seen Vodafone trial a 2Gbps package on the new network at the start of this year (here), which in June 2023 was followed by Yayzi’s earlier than expected launch of a new 2.5Gbps package (here) – this all but confirmed CityFibre’s plan. Since then, we’ve noted that other providers, such as AAISP (Andrews & Arnold), have also setup packages for a similar tier (here).
The new 2.5Gbps product is being made available to its ISP customers on a “rolling basis“, starting in their most mature XGS-PON deployment areas, before reaching all homes served by its XGS-PON based full fibre platform in the coming months. The new platform is capable of supporting symmetrical speeds of up to 10Gbps and is designed to be easily upgraded to 50G PON.
However, those still stuck on the operator’s older GPON network, will not be left out. This will be achieved via a 2Gbps/1Gbps asymmetric GPON product that CityFibre plans to launch in the “coming months” (these services will ultimately be migrated to the XGS-PON platform when available).
CityFibre CEO, Greg Mesch, said:
“With the launch of the UK’s fastest and most cost-effective connectivity products, we are demonstrating the benefits of infrastructure competition and raising the bar for all wholesale networks. Ubiquitous, high-quality, low-carbon connectivity is the keystone of all advanced and community-wide applications of the future. By working with our ISP partners to bring symmetrical multi-gigabit broadband consumer services to market today, with businesses to follow, the UK will finally have a network and services that will enable our future, rather than holding it back.”
By the end of 2023, CityFibre expects to have deployed its XGS-PON equipment into over 90% of its fibre exchanges, with the new 2.5Gbps product becoming available to around 20% of its Ready for Service footprint. The operator also highlighted how its symmetrical 2.5Gbps service is 2.5 times faster than Openreach’s (BT) asymmetric 1Gbps product, at “half the rental cost per megabit” and it provides more than 20 times the upload speeds of Openreach’s piloted 1.8Gbps GPON service. The move also steals a march on Virgin Media’s expected plans to launch a 2Gbps tier.
As usual, the catch here is that harnessing a speed of 2.5Gbps online is still rather tricky, particularly since it’s already difficult enough to max out a 1Gbps line via most online services (Why Buying Gigabit Broadband Doesn’t Always Deliver 1Gbps), although some platforms (e.g. Steam, Microsoft) are catching up. In that sense, this is perhaps more about marketing than meeting genuine need. But that’s all fair play.
CityFibre aims to cover up to 8 million UK premises (funded by c.£2.4bn in equity and c.£4.9bn debt) – across over 285 cities, towns and villages (c.30% of the UK) – by the end of 2025 (here). But it’s looking less and less likely that they’ll reach this goal before 2026.