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PCCW Global Networks Looks to Expand UK Fibre Broadband Reach

Saturday, October 6th, 2018 (7:24 am) - Score 1,848
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PCCW Global Networks UK (formerly Keycom), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong telco HKT and is 63% owned by PCCW, plans to further invest in the UK by growing its fibre broadband (FTTP/B) business to supply large, multi-tenanted properties and multiple businesses that are in close proximity.

Long-time readers will know that the PCCW Group previously invested in UK infrastructure through another directly owned UK subsidiary, UK Broadband Ltd (Relish Wireless) and its parent UKB Network, although the former (UKB) was sold in 2017 to mobile operator Three UK for £250m (here). The deal enabled Three to secure all of UKB’s 4G and 5G friendly radio spectrum for future use.

Nevertheless the PCCW Group hasn’t given up and, according to a new application for Code Powers from Ofcom (i.e. this speeds up deployment by reducing the number of licenses needed for street works), they’ve determined that future investment in UK infrastructure will come from HKT and its subsidiaries.

At present PCCW Global Networks UK still retains a Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network, which is used to serve a number of student and military campuses, as well as key worker accommodation units and other multi-dwelling units (e.g. large apartment blocks) across the UK. By the sound of it they now want to grow this.

Statement from Ofcom’s Code Powers Document

The Applicant’s current core broadband IP infrastructure consists of a network of 12 Points of Presence (“PoPs”) distributed across England, Wales and Scotland, and hosted in buildings owned by other Electronic Communication Service (“ECS”) providers. These PoPs are linked by a fibre optic backbone network, also leased from other ECS providers.

The Applicant has explained that it provides low cost, high speed broadband through its existing network, to customers at approximately 200 sites across the UK (excluding Northern Ireland), offering a choice of speeds from 8Mbit/s up to 1Gbit. The type of dwellings that it serves include a wide range of “Campuses”, commercial business parks, high rise office blocks, MDUs, residential developments, conference venues, university and military campuses and keyworker accommodation blocks.

The Applicant provisions its fibre cabling on-campus and in-building at the start of new contracts to serve its customers’ needs but has stated that it increasingly finds that it is constrained by the poor availability of cost-effective fibre access links to reach these campuses from the nearest serving transmission hub.

The Applicant is seeking Code Powers in order to continue to deploy fixed electronic communications networks across the UK, grow its network to reach new areas and new customers, and expand the range of services that it offers. To achieve these objectives, the Applicant wishes to deploy:

— fibre into new duct infrastructure;
— fibre in ducts through use of Openreach’s regulated physical infrastructure access (“PIA”) product; and
— fibre in ducts and other infrastructure using the Communications (Access to Infrastructure) Regulations (“ATI Regulations”).

The Applicant plans to grow its business by targeting primarily Campuses in built up areas, such as MDUs (mixed and residential), in cities and towns as far apart as Edinburgh, Leeds, Bristol, Manchester, London, Leeds and Liverpool. However, the company is also considering laying fibre to more remote Campuses such as out-of-town business parks, which currently face poor quality communications services and disproportionately high costs due to the limited range of providers servicing them.

Ofcom is almost certain to approve the company’s application for Code Powers, although it remains to be seen how much of the aforementioned plan will actually be achieved. Operators often put their most aspirational outlook into such applications and this doesn’t always reflect reality, although PCCW Global Networks UK certainly has enough support to do it.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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3 Responses
  1. A_Builder

    Interesting to see another player with some resources behind it wanting to enter the full fibre UK market.

    Firstly this proves, once gain, that FTTP is investable.

    Secondly it is great that another entrant who has tried a variety of technologies is getting in. Yup you could say Relish wasn’t the best and I would second that but in all fairness to them when it didn’t work properly they just gave us all the money back no questions asked. Positively they tried to do something a bit different. Open minded thinking is what is needed to drive costs down. OR have learned from Alt Nets and I am sure OR will teach other some other good things as well.

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