CityFibre and Gigaclear have promised to bring pure fibre broadband to “hundreds of thousands” of rural homes and businesses in the UK after signing a strategic partnership.

CityFibre’s long distance network will provide a new backhaul option for future Gigaclear deployments, while its metro networks and POP facilities will facilitate connectivity to nearby rural areas.

CityFibre’s network currently passes 260,000 businesses and 3.7 million homes, while rural-focused Gigaclear said 15,000 premises had access to its services in January, with a further 10,000 in construction.

A further 40,000 properties would be passed this year, Gigaclear said, in part thanks to an £18 million loan it has secured from the European Investment Bank.

The two companies, alongside rival Hyperoptic, have set themselves up as alternatives to BT-owned Openreach.

[Read more: Openreach CEO wants to go ultrafast, but copper is still key]

Gigaclear CEO Matthew Hare: “Bringing brilliant broadband to rural Britain has its challenges. 

“This partnership with CityFibre gives Gigaclear access to more capacity, faster delivery and more flexible bandwidth across the country.

“It helps us build Gigabit networks where other operators do not reach, to meet the demand for better broadband from homes and businesses.”

CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch added: “We have long been aware of the huge levels of demand for better internet connectivity in rural areas surrounding our urban network projects.

“It is a national embarrassment that residents and businesses in rural areas, and indeed many of those in towns and cities, have been left in the digital dark ages.”

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