Network operator Neos Networks has today been named as the preferred bidder for Network Rail’s Project Reach, which among other things could see them invest in the design and build of a new trackside fibre optic communications network. This could also help to improve UK gigabit broadband and 5G mobile coverage.
Just to recap. We reported last year that both Neos Networks (bidding alongside Cellnex) and Virgin Media (bidding alongside Nokia and Jacobs) had been approved to bid on the £1bn (estimated) auction of 16,000 km (10,000 miles) worth of Network Rail’s trackside cable network.
The privatisation plan, which among other things would see the winning bidder upgrade the trackside infrastructure and build 250 new mobile masts to help tackle 5G “notspots” for commuters, was first revealed by Network Rail in 2021 (here). The sale itself reflects their older trackside cable network, much of which this still runs off legacy copper lines and is in need of an upgrade (this carries all sorts of transport, CCTV, signalling and other data).