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What is CityFibre?

Photo of a bright pink and orange CityFibre branded van parked on a modern housing estate

What is CityFibre?

Owned by a group of investment companies, CityFibre currently provides fibre broadband for a number of broadband providers, including Vodafone, TalkTalk, Zen Internet, and many others.

A competitor of Openreach with its own full fibre broadband network, CityFibre successfully launched in 29 cities across the UK in 2021. Whereas Openreach focuses on major metropolitan areas for its rollout, CityFibre concentrated on so-called ‘second cities’, expanding beyond these gigabit cities into remote, rural centres. Products delivered on a CityFibre network are always classed as 'full fibre'.

On this page, you’ll learn where you can get CityFibre, what speeds you can expect, and how to switch.

CityFibre: the key points

  • CityFibre supplies fibre broadband to over 30 cities around the UK
  • Various well-known internet service providers (ISPs) deliver internet services through the CityFibre network, along with a few newcomers
  • CityFibre offers faster broadband speeds than Openreach, making it a smart alternative
  • Switching to a CityFibre provider is straightforward if the network serves your area
  • CityFibre offers FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) which guarantees faster speeds than slower and outdated copper cables

How does CityFibre work?

Broadband internet comes in two broad flavours: FTTP (Fibre to the Property) and FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet). While Openreach relies on a mix of FTTP and FTTC, CityFibre ensures that the data you send and receive travels purely over fibre optic cables.

Slower speed, standard fibre (FTTC) (used extensively by Openreach) relies on old-fashioned copper phone lines from a local cabinet to each home. Copper wires are slower at data transfer than fibre. They have various issues for high-speed connections, such as high latency in online gaming, poor video streaming, and doesn’t always offer the most reliable broadband service.

The result is that you don’t know what speeds you’re likely to get with Openreach until you do a postcode check. In contrast, with CityFibre, its top speed applies wherever you are in the country, provided the network is available in your area.

Which broadband providers are on the CityFibre network?

Various big name, home broadband ISPs (internet service providers) use the CityFibre network to provide high-speed broadband to their customers. This list includes big name telecoms companies such as Vodafone, TalkTalk, as well as smaller providers, such as Zen Internet and Giganet.

Because CityFibre promises faster broadband connections than Openreach’s top one-gigabit option, many network providers have partnered with the ultrafast network.

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What areas does CityFibre serve?

As mentioned, CityFibre is available in ‘second cities’ in England and Scotland. This fibre rollout includes:

Will I get CityFibre in my area?

CityFibre is rolling out across the UK, and it might even serve fibre broadband internet in your area. You can view the CityFibre rollout map to check its Phase 1 and Phase 2 locations.

CityFibre is aiming to provide fibre broadband to 8 million homes. In August 2023, it confirmed it had established a network to 3 million premises, 2.6 million of which are ‘Ready For Service’ – that is, ready to be handed off to ISPs to provide monthly internet subscriptions to customers.

What’s the difference between Openreach and CityFibre?

Three main differences are likely to influence your choice of fibre broadband service.

First, CityFibre isn’t available in all areas of the UK. So while it is like Openreach in offering impressive broadband speeds, you might not be able to use it.

Second, CityFibre is more than twice as fast as Openreach's top download speed offering of 1Gb.

Third, and perhaps most significant if you’re thinking long-term; CityFibre provides only FTTP connections. Openreach relies on both FTTP and FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet), so if you don’t need the faster speeds, you may be able to find a more affordable deal.

This means that Openreach’s availability is wider, but the speeds and choice it offers is more varied.

What’s the fastest broadband speed achievable on a CityFibre network?

CityFibre lists a speed of up to 2.5Gb (gigabits per second). At two-and-a-half times the speed of Openreach, it’s clearly a more attractive option wherever it is available.

When signing up to an ISP that uses CityFibre, you can be confident of top speeds regardless. Openreach’s offerings are suitable for all budgets, but the achievable speeds are impacted by whether FTTP or FTTC connections are available.

Switching broadband providers: how do I switch to a CityFibre provider?

To find out if you can get CityFibre where you live, use its availability checker.

If the network’s available where you live, the website will let you know the broadband providers that use CityFibre near you. Should you be currently tied to a contract with your existing ISP, you can also use the availability checker to schedule an email from CityFibre when your contract nears its end.

If you don't get any results on here, or if you're interested in seeing other deals you can get in your area, try also using our deals checker. This will give you a mixed bag of results, including deals on the CityFibre and Openreach networks, as well as the likes of Virgin Media and other alternative networks such as Hyperoptic or Gigaclear (if they serve your area).

Broadband Genie deals checker

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Frequently asked questions about CityFibre

  • Is CityFibre better than Virgin Media? Does it have better availability?

    Virgin Media currently offers greater coverage than CityFibre. Additionally, you deal direct with Virgin Media when you want to sign up to its full fibre, cable broadband.

  • Which is faster? CityFibre or Virgin Media?

    CityFibre promises a speed of up to 2.5Gb. Meanwhile, Virgin Media’s top advertised speed for domestic customers is 'Gig2 Fibre Broadband'. This offers download speeds of 2Gb. Consequently, you could expect better speeds from a CityFibre-based connection.

Expert Summary

Because CityFibre provides a full fibre network infrastructure to some of the biggest broadband providers as well as many other alternative networks (altnets), it’s likely you’ll never need to speak to anyone at the company. Instead, if a full fibre connection is already running direct to your premises from the local exchange, you can simply contact one of the ISPs that use CityFibre and take up their fastest offer.

If you live in a rural area, CityFibre can provide unprecedented internet speeds.

While a strong competitor to Openreach (and Virgin Media), CityFibre could realistically end up merging with either company. If you have strong feelings about either, this might be a deciding factor when considering changing ISP.

Meet the author:
Christian Cawley

With a background in general desktop support in the public sector and specialised software support in the private sector, Christian has worked as a freelance technology writer for websites and newsstand publications since 2008.

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