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Competition for KCOM as Grain Expands FTTP Broadband to Hull

Monday, November 29th, 2021 (2:55 pm) - Score 2,808
Grain-Engineer-Installing-ONT

The incumbent broadband operator for the city of Hull in East Yorkshire, KCOM, looks set to get some real competition after UK alternative network ISP Grain bravely announced that they would be deploying their gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network into the same location. But other operators have similar plans.

At present, it’s well known that KCOM is the dominant provider in Hull and their own FTTP network has already covered the entire city. Indeed, they recently invested another £100m to expand their full fibre network across lots of new and more competitive locations in East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, England.

By comparison Grain, which is being supported by an equity investment of £75m from Equitix (here), has already revealed network expansion plans for parts of Leicester, Liverpool, Accrington, Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Scarborough, Carlisle, Barrow-in-Furness, Hartlepool, Newport, Sunderland and Blackburn, among others.

However, despite the risks, Grain has pledged to challenge KCOM in their home market. Some of the first streets to be connected in the initial phase of this build include those around Reynoldson Street and Sharp Street, and will include Grafton Street, De Grey Street and Goddard Avenue, with plans to expand to thousands more homes in the coming months. Sadly, they haven’t provided details on how much the build will cost, how long it will take to complete or precisely how many premises will end up being covered.

Tracy Karam, Head of Customer Experience for Grain, said:

“The response from residents and businesses to what we are offering has been very positive, with many signing up to our service before work on their street has even been started.

Our service has become even more popular in recent months, as customers rely more and more on a fast, reliable and secure network for working, learning, gaming, and entertainment. We are pleased to be rolling out our offer prices to the residents of Hull, allowing them to experience the benefits of full fibre at unbeatable prices.”

Customers can expect to pay from just £25 per month for a symmetric speed 50Mbps package, which goes up to £55 for their top 900Mbps plan. All of these packages come with an 18-month minimum contract term, unlimited usage, free installation and a router. The provider also pledges “no in-contract price rises.” The announcement does say they offer “100Mb for just £16.99 a month” on a 12-month term, but confusingly that’s not what they show on their front page.

At this point, it’s perhaps fair to say that Grain has already built somewhat of a reputation for targeting towns that already have gigabit-capable broadband rivals present, which tends to increase the investment risk. The situation in Hull is similar, with KCOM being the obvious incumbent.

However, KCOM aren’t the only one that Grain will have to worry about. A couple of months ago Connexin revealed that they too were building FTTP in Hull (here) and, just a few hours ago, they appeared to be joined by MS3, which already has a small full fibre network in the city and that now looks set to grow (here).

All of this will of course be good news for consumers, not least because it will probably force KCOM to adopt even more competitive pricing.

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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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9 Responses
  1. Damien says:

    For the land once dubbed BT’s crown Jewel it’s now getting soaked with FTTP

    1. Yeehaa says:

      BT have never operated in Hull. KCOM was the only local telecoms company that wasn’t amalgamated into the GPO/Post Office Telephones

    2. John says:

      BT’s crown jewels? You what?
      Hull is the last place in the UK I would associate with BT/Openreach.
      They have virtually zero presence there at all.

  2. Peter says:

    The only thing that puts me of Grain is the fact they only offer CG-NAT and no IPv6.

    1. Peter says:

      That’s fair, but it’d still like the option for a static IPv4 address for their residential. £5 extra even like some providers or free on the most expensive package.

    2. Anon says:

      They only have 3,300 IPv4 addresses, its not surprising they aren’t offering v4 as an option. https://bgp.he.net/AS199468#_prefixes

    3. John says:

      Yeah they don’t appear to have much IPv4 at all. I suppose if you really need a dedicated address you can buy a cheapo VPS and run a VPN or GRE tunnel on it and route traffic through there as well as forwarding any ports you need.

  3. drevilbob says:

    Spoken to them today, they have plans to build into Cardiff in the near future more competition for Virgin media here

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