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KCOM Pilots New Wholesale Full Fibre Products for UK ISPs UPDATE

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021 (12:16 pm) - Score 1,248
Hull News & Pictures Ltd

Hull-based UK ISP KCOM, which is currently busy expanding the reach of their new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network to thousands more premises across East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, has begun to pilot a new wholesale solution for ISPs in their new build areas.

At present KCOM has already completed a major £85m project to deploy their own “full fibre” infrastructure across virtually their entire network patch (c.200,000 premises) in East Yorkshire (mostly in and around Hull), which is an area where Ofcom still deems the operator to hold “a near monopoly” position “at both the wholesale and retail level.”

The operator, which was acquired by Macquarie Infrastructure for the hefty sum of £627m in 2019 (here), has separately begun a new £100m network expansion project (here and here) that is slowly reaching into many new and more competitive parts of East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. It’s these areas, where different regulatory rules may apply, that seem to be the focus of today’s announcement.

Essentially, KCOM are launching a new “full fibre” focused wholesale service for rival ISPs to adopt in their expansion areas, which is initially being piloted by four providers in the East Yorkshire towns of Hornsea (3,900 Premises) and Withernsea (2,900 Premises) as part of their trial.

Tim Shaw, MD of KCOM Wholesale & Networks, said:

“This is a very exciting step for us as we seek out opportunities to work with new partners across our expanding full fibre network.

This pilot scheme is just the start of what we believe has huge potential for both us as a wholesaler and our reseller partners. Together we can bring the benefits of premium full fibre services to many more business and residential customers.

We are investing heavily to build a world class, FTTP network that gives potential partners a great platform to sell their products and services on. We’re now actively seeking new partners to join us on this exciting journey, of which Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are the first step.

Going forward, we’re interested in developing relationships with more quality providers looking to deliver great business and residential services over full fibre.”

Graham Stuart, UK Minister for Investment at the Department of International Trade, said:

“I’m delighted that KCOM have chosen to launch their pilot scheme in Hornsea and Withernsea in my constituency. These plans will build on KCOM’s excellent full-fibre infrastructure to give my constituents more choice and faster broadband so they can work, shop, and stream without interruption.

I recently met with Dale Raneberg, KCOM’s CEO, and was pleased to hear how hard they’re working to give residents across the Humber the best connections possible, including for people in Beverley and Holderness.”

We don’t currently know precisely how the new solution differs from the somewhat limited wholesale options that KCOM already offers in the area where they are deemed to hold Significant Market Power (SMP). But we’d expect it to be more attractive, since their expansion areas face greater competition from the likes of Openreach (BT) and other altnets.

The announcement doesn’t clarify which ISPs are involved in this pilot, although we assume that some established partners (e.g. Pure Broadband) may be playing a role. We’re currently seeking further details and will update again if there’s anything to be added.

Assuming the pilot goes well then KCOM said they would be rolling it out across the rest of their expansion areas in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. The operator is currently looking for more ISPs to get involved in their pilot.

UPDATE 5th May 2021

KCOM has confirmed to us that they’re working with a small number of reseller partners in this pilot including Pure Broadband, River and Cobus.

Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. A_Builder says:

    That is very interesting.

    Can an Alt Net wholesale quilt be stitched together to challenge OR?

    I appreciate before anyone says it OR’s build rate.

    1. A_Builder says:

      Probably should have remembered that article!

  2. Tom says:

    Unless some of the bigger players get involved I have a feeling the trial will be ultimately disappointing.

    The likes of Pure Broadband will for sure be on board but the service they offer is still ridiculously expensive compared to national providers, just like KCOM themselves. The only reason Pure Broadband has any customers is simply because they want to be a customer of KCOM. The product and the service is rubbish.

    One thing KCOM does have going for it is a highly reliable fibre network with excellent speeds and network management. Just way too expensive.

    1. Fast, good, cheap: pick two says:

      How much would be acceptable to you for a “highly reliable fibre network with excellent speeds and network management”? Or, perhaps, on which of these would you be willing to compromise to get a lower price?

    2. Tom says:

      40 quid a month for basic internet service is way too much. Plenty of FTTC/P offerings from other BT based providers you can get for 20ish a month and is as reliable.

    3. NE555 says:

      I think you’d be hard pushed to find £20/month for any BT-based FTTP (rather than FTTC).

      Sky is £28 (for 80/20), and BT themselves are £28 for 40/10 (Essentials) – sometimes discounted by a pound or two. End-of-contract rates are often substantially higher.

      If you want a “Business grade” service (faster support/repair), £40 is a common price point for 80/20 or 100/20.

      The cheapest provider isn’t necessarily going to provide a “highly reliable fibre network with excellent speeds and network management”

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