After leaving us in suspense TalkTalk and Cityfibre have today confirmed that their joint 940Mbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband trial in the city of York (England) will be extended from 14,000 premises passed today to another 40,000 over the next 2 years; supported by a new investment of £20m.
Cityfibre confirmed last month that their initial “Ultra Fibre Optic” trial with Sky Broadband and TalkTalk in the city had finally “completed” (14,000 premises passed) and “achieved all target objectives in terms of penetration and deployment costs” (here). So far the network has managed to attract 2,400 customers and climbing (17.5% take-up).
Similarly TalkTalk confirmed that its build costs for the network had been established at below £500 per home passed (this doesn’t include the final home install) and they claimed to be “increasingly confident of reaching our targeted penetration rate of 30%‐40% and delivering the proof of concept required to expand beyond York.”
However the completion figure of 14,000 was below the originally predicted 20,000 aspiration for phase one and a big question mark remained over the future of the network, not least with Sky Broadband’s boss (Jeremy Darroch) appearing to publicly back away from a strategy of building their own fibre optic networks (here).
The good news is that TalkTalk has today confirmed that the network will be expanded to reach an extra 40,000 premises, which they say will cover the “vast majority of the city’s premises” (strictly speaking York is home to around 80,000 premises). As part of this they will acquire Sky’s equity in the venture, with Sky becoming a long-term wholesale customer.
Richard Sinclair, General Manager of Ultrafast for TalkTalk, said:
“We are very pleased with the success of UFO in York so far. Our customers are amazed at what they can do with their ultrafast connections – streaming HD TV without buffering, playing games in real time with people on the other side of the world, or simply enabling every member of the family to be online at the same time. We’re very excited to be extending our roll out – York is well on its way to achieving its ambition of becoming the digital capital of the north.”
Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:
“CityFibre sits at the centre of pure fibre investment across the UK, with dense local access fibre networks in 40 UK towns and cities. The expansion of the York trial validates our commitment to bring ultrafast broadband to both communities and businesses. What we have delivered in partnership with Sky and TalkTalk has been truly ground breaking, leveraging our existing assets to deliver a state of the art fibre-to-the-premises network built efficiently and without the involvement of Openreach.”
Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital, said:
“The future is fibre and TalkTalk’s extension of its rollout of full fibre gigabit speeds in York is exactly the kind of thing we want to see industry delivering across the UK. We are working to support full fibre roll out by removing barriers and putting the right incentives in place to help cement our role as a digital leader and get the very best broadband to families and business.”
Completion of the extended roll-out is expected to cost approximately £20 million during TalkTalk’s financial year ending March 2018 and will be funded by TalkTalk, with CityFibre continuing as a shareholder. The new deployment itself is expected to commence during Spring 2017.
On top of that TalkTalk’s CEO, Dido Harding, continues to push an aspiration for delivering FTTP to 10 million homes across the United Kingdom by 2025 (this is urban centric, so hard luck if you live in a rural area), although in order to stand any chance of doing that they’d need to attract a lot more investment or hope for Openreach (BT) to be doing more fibre optic lines in the future than currently planned (at present BTOR aim to deliver 2 million FTTP premises by 2020).
At present TalkTalk’s unlimited 900Mbps+ FTTP package costs just £21.70 per month for the entire service on an 18 month contract, which includes a wireless router, free mobile SIM and various other features. However that doesn’t leave much room for making and profit and reinvestment to improve the service.