Vodafone targets fiber to 8M U.K. homes in 1H 2022

Vodafone inked an expanded partnership deal with wholesale infrastructure company CityFibre as part of a bid to edge out rivals in the U.K. and become the county’s largest fiber service provider by early next year.

The operator previously signed a wholesale deal with CityFibre in 2017 covering 1 million homes across 12 cities. Under the new agreement, Vodafone will become CityFibre’s anchor tenant nationwide, allowing it to provide fiber service across the entirety of the latter’s planned footprint of 285 cities.

CityFibre noted in a press release its infrastructure already passes more than 1 million homes and it expects to have fiber deployed to 8 million homes by 2025.

In addition to its deal with CityFibre, Vodafone has a wholesale agreement in place with BT subsidiary Openreach which it signed in late 2019. Between the two agreements, Vodafone said it is aiming to deliver fiber service to 8 million homes by April 2022.

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“Through our partnership with wholesale providers, we’re going to be bringing full fiber to more homes than any other retail provider,” Vodafone UK CEO Ahmed Essam said in a statement.

Essam told the Financial Times the operator is open to striking additional deals, for instance with Virgin Media O2, to supplement its agreements with CityFibre and Openreach.

Vodafone’s fiber service is now available to customers in Bradford, Derby, Glasgow, Leicester and Paisley and will open to those in Nottingham, Reading, Slough and Swindon on Friday (November 12). Availability in Barnsley, Batley/Dewsbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Maidenhead, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Solihull, Wolverhampton and Worthing is due “in the coming months,” Vodafone said.

Vodafone closed its fiscal Q1 2022 (the three months to June 30, 2021) with 940,000 broadband customers in the U.K. The company is set to report its results for the first half of fiscal 2022 next week.

The effort to expand its reach comes amid a fiber frenzy in the U.K. In May, Openreach set a goal to reach 25 million homes with fiber by 2026, targeting rollouts to  4 million new homes each year in the process. Virgin Media O2 subsequently announced a plan to upgrade its entire fixed network to full fiber-to-the-premises by 2028.

In a September report, the FTTH Council Europe predicted the number of fiber subscriptions in the U.K. will increase from 2.5 million in 2021 to 18.5 million in 2026. Fiber penetration was tipped to rise from 8.8% to 63.1% over the same period.