UK fibre firms continue reach expansion

Showing how full-fibre broadband providers of all sizes are continuing to prosper in the UK, growing fibre firm Nexfibre has announced that it is delivering its network to more than 13,000 premises across Canterbury, while altnet Toob has hit the business milestone of 50,000 connected customers as it approaches its five-year anniversary.

Just days after Nexfibre announced that it was to connect over 12,000 premises in Rochford, Essex, the wholesale fibre operator has begun build activity to connect over 13,000 premises in Canterbury to its full-fibre network, offering access to services from build partner and anchor tenant Virgin Media O2 (VMO2).

The fruits of a £4.5bn investment from VMO2 shareholders, Liberty Global and Telefónica, alongside investment firm InfraVia Capital Partners, Nexfibre was launched to create the UK’s first national-scale challenger to BT Openreach, boosting choice and competition in the market. The key stated objective for Nexfibre is to roll out fibre initially to five million homes not currently served by the VMO2 network by 2026, with the opportunity to expand to an additional two million homes.

VMO2 has an exclusive partnership with Nexfibre and aims to have a fibre footprint reaching 80% of the UK when coupled with its own fibre upgrade plans, which complete in 2028, with Nexfibre providing a material baseline of penetration to build upon. In April 2024, Nexfibre announced it had a total of one million premises passed and ready for service, reaching a seven-digit number of premises in 14 months, claiming to make it the fastest fibre build programme of any UK network. 

The investment in Canterbury is said to demonstrate the progress the company is making in its programme. Nexfibre’s full-fibre broadband is powered by XGS-PON technology, capable of symmetrical speeds of up to 10Gbps. The company said the new deployment will see more customers than ever in Canterbury and the wider Kent area able to access high-speed broadband and TV streaming services via Virgin Media O2.

“We are committed to delivering high-quality full-fibre connectivity to communities and businesses across the UK, including here in Canterbury,” commented Nexfibre CEO Rajiv Datta. “By boosting access to broadband, we are enabling access to the tools needed to participate and thrive in a modern, digital society and stoking growth in the local economy.”

Across England’s south coast, altnet Toob has grown from a customer base of just 10,000 customers in October 2022 to well over 50,000 customers 18 months later. The early network deployed in Southampton now has over 40% penetration and overall Toob network penetration is almost 20%. In addition, Toob is growing its customers on the CityFibre network through a strategic partnership between the two companies.

In total, Toob has invested in its network to enhance connectivity to 29 towns and cities across the south of the UK and has seen its 900Mbps full-fibre broadband service become available across Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Sussex and Berkshire.

“I am incredibly proud of Toob. We have a hardworking and talented team, and it is a testament to their knowledge, expertise and dedication that we have achieved such significant milestones in a relatively short period of time,” remarked Toob CEO Nick Parbutt. “I am delighted we have over 50,000 customers enjoying the service we provide, and I look forward to adding the next 50,000.”