Vodafone signs deal with BT to expand full fibre network

Vodafone has signed a deal with BT to use its network to offer full fibre broadband service to up to half a million customers in three British cities.

Up to half a million homes and businesses in Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool will be covered by the middle of 2021, with the first customers connected in the spring. Vodafone already operates 5G in all three cities, raising the prospect of converged network services.

Openreach said last week it would offer steep discounts to its customers — the broadband service providers that also use its network — if they committed to heavy marketing campaigns at the local level and to connect large blocks of customers to faster fibre services.

The offer included free line rental for a year if the end customer switched to fibre from a Virgin Media cable line.

Vodafone already has a deal with CityFibre to bring full fibre services to one million properties by 2021, a figure which could rise to five million in the future. To date, Vodafone has launched full fibre services in Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Coventry, Huddersfield, Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Stirling as part of this partnership.

“Vodafone is committed to a full fibre future and to creating the infrastructure Britain needs to compete and win in the digital era,” said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery.

“This initiative with Openreach builds on our existing commitments with CityFibre and underlines our belief in the power of digital technology to connect people for a better future and unlock economic growth for the UK.”

BT has estimated that the cost of upgrading the country to full fibre would be between £25bn and £30bn, and argues that it needs to ensure consumers switch to the new networks to justify that investment.

The discounts, which run until September 2022, are designed to bring on board companies such as Vodafone to stimulate that demand.

“We’re keen to upgrade customers as quickly as possible to this new, ultrafast, future-proof platform, so we’re proud that Vodafone’s placing its confidence in Openreach to deliver a great broadband experience for their customers,” said Clive Selley, Openreach CEO.

“We’re determined to be the partner of choice for all Communications Providers and we’ll do that by offering the best connectivity and service with the widest possible coverage throughout the country.”