Comms Vision 2021: Why it’s time to push the full fibre boundaries

Andy WilsonFull fibre is underpinning the UK's digital infrastructure opportunity and has become of critical strategic importance not just for the UK, but for channel partners looking to optimise their connectivity portfolios and generate strong and predictable growth, according to Comms Vision Platinum sponsor Andy Wilson, Head of Wholesale at CityFibre.

There's no longer any argument that full fibre is the future, we all know it. We know why it's so vitally important for Britain's economy, why our customers need it and why we should be championing it. Are all full fibre networks equal though? And what makes one stand out from another as the first choice wherever it's available? Now is the time to set new standards and push boundaries in delivering a full fibre infrastructure that Britain can depend on. A time that requires an infrastructure platform that's better because of the way it's designed, and partnerships that co-create an exceptional customer service experience.

We make no apology for blowing our own trumpet: CityFibre is at the forefront of the nationwide rollout of full fibre and we've made our intentions very clear by setting our goals to 2025. Our rollout is on track and, even in the face of a pandemic, our £4 billion programme of investment is already funding full fibre deployment across over 60 cities and towns, with 46 now delivering lit ultra-reliable symmetrical gigabit speed services.

By 2025 we'll be across 285 cities, towns and villages representing eight million homes, 800,000 businesses, 400,000 public sector sites and 250,000 5G access points. Underpinning this investment is the largest ever capital raise, at £1.125 billion, for UK full fibre deployment - adding two new major investors. Mubadala Investment Co and Interogo Holding join our existing shareholders, Goldman Sachs and Antin, as well as a number of new banks to ensure that we continue to build at scale. The new capital supports not only this rollout to a third of the UK market, it enables us to participate in BDUK's Project Gigabit rural programme.

Commenting on our announcement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that ‘The Government is committed to making high-speed broadband available for every part of the UK, and this exciting investment will turbocharge the UK's full-fibre rollout. It will revolutionise people's lives and generate huge economic benefits, jobs and growth'.

Making a real difference

We believe it's not just getting there as quickly as possible that matters – it's about how we get there and the quality of service we and our partners deliver. That's what will make the real difference to end customers and to Britain's future as a digital competitor. It's vital that we enable businesses to have the performance, quality and reliability they need to run their operations successfully and compete on a global stage.

That's why we're on a journey to build a world class digital infrastructure platform for Britain, never standing still and constantly fine tuning everything we do across four pillars – physical infrastructure, platform and systems, service and innovation. For our partners it requires a hunger to join us on the journey and be part of co-creating this customer success.

World class means having the highest quality wholesale full fibre network that's ultra-reliable and purpose built to deliver symmetrical gigabit speeds, via Ethernet and broadband. It means using the best-in-class technology and smart platforms designed to harness the power of automation and provide on-demand data to keep our partners in the know, while providing them with complete control and visibility of their customers' accounts.

World class means doing everything we can to ensure entire communities are connected so that no one is left behind. And it means innovation in products, in mindset and in commercial support to ensure the best ongoing value for our partners. Finally, it's about delivering a friction-free service experience that raises the bar for our industry, reduces the cost to serve and achieves the highest levels of end customer satisfaction.

The last 18 months have seen a massive acceleration in digital transformation, with exponential growth in the use of cloud and managed IT services. Video conferencing and collaboration apps have become critical and workers' experience of the tools they use, whether at home or in the office, are now a key component of their wellbeing and performance.

To ensure optimum productivity, a connection must be ultra-fast and ultra-reliable – for the organisations and for the individuals that make them what they are. And for businesses, hybrid working and the real desire to be more sustainable and achieve net zero have become key factors to drive their future decision making and responsibility. Factors that rely entirely on dependable connections.

Redefining partnership excellence

This is why CityFibre is building a gigabit-speed full fibre network, one that's designed from scratch for the digital age and fully fit for the future. A fundamentally better network that's free from the shackles and restrictions of legacy technology and providing a firm foundation for business while allowing us and our partners to innovate. We believe it's also about delivering the best possible customer experience, because on their own, even state-of-the-art networks underpinned by smart systems aren't enough. That's why partnerships in the UK channel matter so much to us and where they make all the difference to local communities up and down the country. It's our partners who work directly and indirectly with end user customers and, whether they're serving consumers, small businesses, schools, corporate enterprises or public sector organisations, we believe they deserve the same top-drawer experience.

The solid value our partners add through their knowledge of what customers need and their expertise in delivering that, together with our own uncompromising approach to quality, are what make the prospects for the channel so exciting. For our part, we're here to serve the entire channel with an infrastructure platform that meets the individual requirements of our diverse partner base. In serving carrier and national aggregator partners we bring simplicity and opportunity to the resellers wanting to make the most of existing supplier relationships. Meanwhile, for those who believe working with us directly is strategically important for their business model, we can tailor support to help them achieve their goals and aspirations. Overall, our aim is to make the availability of CityFibre connections ubiquitous throughout the channel.

It's a big ask to trust us to deliver on our promises. This is an industry in which promises of ‘better' have historically been broken. However, those of our partners who are already serving customers on our full fibre network are consistently seeing over 96 per cent of services delivered right first time and promised symmetrical speeds materialising. And faults are rare. All of this means fewer calls into call centres, happier customers and the kind of loyalty that wins yet more customers through word of mouth. Along with enabling products, it's a performance level that has allowed some business ISPs to confidently enter the consumer space for the first time - without fear of the entry costs to compete and the resource requirements associated with far less reliable legacy network architecture, infrastructure and systems.

Driving success

Ultimately, it is the customer experience that will drive and dictate the success of CityFibre and its partners and, just like we ignited the full fibre revolution we're now throwing down the gauntlet on network and service quality, challenging our industry to step up once again. Gigabit-capable full fibre connectivity is the future, and we continue to lead the charge in driving best-in-class rollout across the UK. Moreover, we are setting new standards in terms of what the customer can expect from their full fibre connections. This is an exciting time for us all, wherever we sit in the channel, and there are even more exciting times and opportunities to come. And, for all our endless collective energies and efforts, we deserve them.

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