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Vodafone and CityFibre have announced a long-term strategic partnership that will lead to up to five million premises having access to ultrafast broadband by 2025.

The rollout of gigabit-capable full fibre broadband is due to begin in early 2018, with the first phase seeing the technology being deployed to one million homes and businesses over three years.

The two companies will then have the option of extending the commercial terms of their agreement to reach a further four million premises by 2025.

Vodafone and CityFibre believe their partnership will help to "bridge Britain's fibre gap", with world-class gigabit-capable fibre-to-the-premises connections being brought to households, businesses and public sector sites including schools and hospitals.

Nick Jeffery, Chief Executive of Vodafone UK, commented: "The UK has fallen far behind the rest of the world, trapped by the limited choice available on legacy networks.

"We look forward to working with CityFibre to build the gigabit fibre network that the UK needs and deserves."

Greg Mesch, Chief Executive of CityFibre, added that the agreement will "unlock the UK's full fibre future" and represents a "major step forward".

"With this commitment from Vodafone, we have a partner with whom we can transform the digital capabilities of millions of homes and businesses and establish an unassailable wholesale infrastructure position across 20 per cent of the UK broadband market," he said.

Vodafone and CityFibre have pointed out that since fibre-to-the-premises networks use fibre-optic cables for each stage of the connection, it provides extremely fast and reliable broadband services.

The two companies said this gigabit-capable technology is "vastly superior" to outdated networks that rely on ageing copper telephone lines, and can therefore transform consumers' everyday lives and enhance business productivity.

This latest announcement comes shortly after Digital Minister Matt Hancock said the government would "strain every sinew" to get full fibre broadband rolled out in Britain.

Speaking at the Broadband Stakeholder Group 2017 Conference, he stated that while the existing copper network is important today, a copper-to-the-premise solution "is not fit for the future".

The government has already announced a five-year 100 per cent business rates holiday for broadband providers that invest in a full fibre network, as well as a £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund to improve access to commercial finance.

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