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1Gbps Fibre ISP toob Start Southampton Rollout Despite Virgin Media

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 (7:46 am) - Score 6,596

Portsmouth-based UK ISP toob, which was setup by several of Vodafone’s former directors (here) and has attracted investment of £75m (here), is officially starting the rollout of their 900Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network in Southampton, despite Virgin Media’s threat to “keep them out of our city.”

The new provider has a longer term ambition to expand their “full fibre” network to pass more than 1 million homes and business over the next 10 years (focused on Southern England), although initially the plan is to start their rollout around the central part of Southampton (Hampshire) before reaching the rest of the city by the end of 2021 (the target is to have 100,000 premises covered by 2021 – possibly including other parts of the UK).


The initial rollout area was subject to a major engineering survey by toob a couple of months ago.

The Southampton rollout itself is expected to cost around £50m and the first customers could be connecting to toob’s network by the end of 2019. At present the only package that we know about will give you unlimited usage and 900Mbps+ (average) symmetric speeds for just £25 inc. VAT per month on an 18 month contract term (there’s no mention of an installation charge or included router yet).

Nick Parbutt, CEO of toob, said:

“This is another great step in bringing the benefits of full fibre connectivity to Southampton. It is fantastic to see our network working and delivering the speeds and performance that we expect.

We are very excited about the next steps as we start to deploy the network and start connecting customers to Toob’s hyperspeed broadband.”

Christopher Hammond, Leader of Southampton City Council, said:

“toob’s making fantastic progress in rolling out their network. The work will benefit Southampton’s businesses and residents for years to come, helping the city to thrive in a digital age. We’re committed to tech investment and our digital economy is booming because of this.”

However toob is by no means the only Gigabit broadband player in Southampton. Cable giant Virgin Media has similarly announced that the central south coast city will be the first in the UK to benefit from their DOCSIS 3.1 network upgrade, which with the snap of their fingers will make a 1Gbps (50Mbps upload) speed package available across the entire city by the end of 2019 (here).

Virgin has a huge advantage here as an established player and a major Pay TV provider, although they won’t be able to match toob for upload speeds and the new ISP is clearly looking to go very aggressive on pricing. Nevertheless the CEO of Virgin Media, Lutz Schüler, recently warned that he intended to “fight back” against smaller alternative network providers and “will use everything to keep them out of our city” (here).

Southampton is of course an urban area and thus aggressive competition is to be expected, which is why choosing such locations can be such a risk for newer entrants. In fact it’s almost enough to make us forget that Openreach (BT) are even in the game, although at present their main “ultrafast broadband” technology in the city is the inferior hybrid fibre G.fast solution.

We should add that Hyperoptic also has some 1Gbps FTTP/B in the city, albeit mostly focused upon larger apartment blocks, and Virgin Media’s warning was arguably aimed just as much at them as toob. In theory there should be enough space in dense urban areas for three or more such providers to co-exist and this is about to be tested.

UPDATE 10:19am

The full press release has now arrived and includes a little video of a speedtest they ran, which shows speeds of around 900Mbps+ and a ping of 5ms. Hopefully that holds up once take-up rises as non-trial users start connecting later this year.


Just a quick correction. In our original article we said that the SSE linked company Neoscorp Ltd will be conducting the civil engineering work for toob in Southampton, although toob has now denied this. We are seeking some clarification as to who is doing their civil engineering in the city since we’re struggling to find any plans for the area linked to toob.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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14 Responses
  1. Avatar Rich says:

    Even if VM roll out 1gbit it will have a pathetic 50mbit upload and probably be contingent on them taking 12 TV boxes, paying for sports, and an overpriced mobile sim.

    Toob should have it easy.

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      This is going to be instructive.

    2. Avatar Mike says:

      You can get top VM speeds on business packages.

    3. Avatar SimonR says:

      Which ones are they Mike? A cursory glance at virginmediabusiness.co.uk lists speeds and prices similar to their domestic offerings. Unless you’re talking about the dedicated lines, which is about 10x more.

      I don’t know much about the business side of their packages TBH.

    4. Avatar Rich says:

      I was talking about their 500/35 service, which they will only sell as part of their “ultimate ooomph” bundle at £99/m with TV boxes and mobile sims. They won’t sell it without the other fluff.

      I believe it is available to business users at £74.40 a month inc VAT on a 24 month contract with £50 install fee, but I currently pay £35/m for 350/35 so that seems a bit crazy! I’d also have to be a business and deal with the Hitron router and GRE tunnels.

  2. Avatar AndyC says:

    Am i the only one thinking that £25 per month isn’t going to be sustainable long term?

    It seems to cheap.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Depends on the model as a lot of other countries have very cheap Gigabit FTTP broadband too, although in this case it’s fairly normal for new fibre networks to compete aggressively on price in order to grow.

  3. Avatar Brad says:

    Or this demonstrates how other companies inflate their prices for their own back pocket?

  4. Avatar M Jordan says:

    I have long been waiting for real competition to VirginMedia having been a fibre user for 30 ? years since Videotron installed it and continually being hacked off with their “we don’t want to do this, but we are going to increase your price to rip you off yet again” notices. Annoyingly also, BT fibre to cabinet is in cabinet at bottom of road, but not in cabinet at top where we live, even though shirley exchange has been fibre enabled for about 3 years now, so no real chance of going to any BT fed providers. Lets hope this is a real usable alternative !

  5. Avatar FibreBubble says:

    Where you getting the idea that this test rodding NEOS are doing is linked to Toob?

    1. Avatar FibreBubble says:

      Clarification – Although my comment was ignored, ISP Review have subsequently edited out their article.

  6. Avatar Josh says:

    Awesome news. I live in a large block near the docks in the initial build and Virgin doesn’t connect our building, so definitely positive news for my fellow residents. Great price too.

  7. Avatar Wayne says:

    It does say on the website there will be a £49 one off installation charge.

  8. Avatar Gary Hayward says:

    Will be interesting to see if VM compete on price. They want £62 a month!

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