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Grain Finally Puts FTTP Broadband Live in Hull UK to Rival KCOM

Friday, Jun 30th, 2023 (11:35 am) - Score 1,600
Grain-Vans-Parked

Network operator and broadband ISP Grain (Grain Connect) has today finally announced that they’ve launched their new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network – using Point-to-Point (PTP) architecture – in the East Yorkshire (England) city of Hull. But at present it’s only available to around 20,000 premises.

The provider has so far unveiled full fibre builds for over 50 places (plus 150 new build housing developments), which includes various urban locations like Leicester, Liverpool, Accrington, Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Scarborough, Carlisle, Barrow-in-Furness, Hartlepool, Newport, Sunderland, Blackburn and so forth. The initial phase of their rollout aims to cover 400,000 premises, but their progress and timescale remain unclear.

NOTE: Grain recently secured another £130m of funding (here), which is in addition to the £90m previously raised.

At this point it’s worth highlighting that their build in Hull was first announced all the way back in 2021 (here), so it’s taken a while to reach this point. Since then we’ve seen various other alternative networks (AltNets) announce their intention to tackle KCOM on its home turf, such as Connexin, MS3 and Quickline.

Suffice to say that the city has now become a hotbed of competitive full fibre build activity, which is clearly going to be a problem for the local incumbent (KCOM).

Tracy Karam, Head of Sales and Marketing at Grain, said:

“We are very excited to be live and connecting the people of Hull to a better choice of UK broadband. We already have huge demand from residents who have signed up in advance of our service going live.

We are committed to providing communities with a great value, affordable service, without compromising on speed and reliability. Our goal is to make Full Fibre broadband accessible to all and our packages, with no in-contract prices rises, no up-front costs and unlimited data, fit the bill.”

Customers of the regular service, once live, normally pay from just £25.99 per month for a symmetric 100Mbps package on a 12-month term (currently discounted to £19.99), which goes up to just £49.99 for their top 900Mbps plan (discounted to just £34.99). All of these packages come with unlimited usage, free installation, a router and a pledge to ensure “no in-contract price rises.” The ISP also has a social tariff for those on benefits.

In addition, customers who sign-up in Hull and book an installation by 31st July 2023 will be in with a chance of winning one year of free broadband, in an exclusive prize draw.

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Comments
14 Responses
  1. Avatar photo The Ancient Mariner says:

    It’s about time but why cable streets that MS3 has already cabled and leave others alone?

    1. Avatar photo GNewton says:

      The usual postcode lottery 🙂

  2. Avatar photo John says:

    People complain altnets are patchy, meanwhile Grain literally covers one single patch of 200 everywhere they go, how are they even viable?

    1. Avatar photo Flame Henry says:

      The “Grain scattered streets” of Hull? Thanks Philip Larkin

  3. Avatar photo James says:

    So when do KCOM drop their prices to match/beat all these who are providing better speeds for ~£20 less a month!?

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Probably only once those rivals have built some serious scale in the city, which may take a bit longer as there are about 200,000 premises.

  4. Avatar photo Evad says:

    Kcom prices are regulated by ofcom who actively prevent Kcom reducing prices to low otherwise it would deter competition. Basically the same as BT and alt nets, BT cannot reduce their price so low it makes alts impossible

    1. Avatar photo James says:

      But now they’re in a position were they’re losing customers to cheaper providers?

    2. Avatar photo Miken says:

      KCOM keep passing the blame for high prices to Ofcom on Twitter and probably other social networks, but I can’t find any evidence of restriction on retail pricing like they do BT.

      The latest report I can find is https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-1/2021-26-hull-area-wholesale-fixed-telecoms-market-review obviously it focusses on wholesale competition and some of the intentions of the remedies have not happened (volume 3: 1.7).

      Volume 3: 1.16 + 1.17:
      “However, assuming our approach is successful, it is likely to be some years before new competition emerges at scale and provides consumers in the Hull Area with benefits such as more choice and lower prices. In the interim, we recognise that we will need to continue to monitor KCOM’s retail pricing behaviour and be prepared to intervene to protect consumers, if necessary, by opening a review of competition in retail markets in the Hull Area.”

      Seems to me to be saying Ofcom monitor prices but don’t currently intervene?

      But it does seem KCOM are screwed if they do or don’t, if they lower prices and squeeze the alt nets then Ofcom are more likely to intervene, but if they don’t, they’re going to lose customers.

  5. Avatar photo Steven Brown says:

    I’m on grain and the only issue it’s currently day 42 of waiting for a static IP.

    1. Avatar photo dale says:

      thats expensive

  6. Avatar photo Pete Berry says:

    I’m on Hull-Fibre through MS3 in Grimsby, top notch local company with local engineers and service desk and getting just under 1 gig up and down with a ping of 1. All for £45 a month

  7. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

    While many other networks and, indeed, Openreach are aiming for depth of coverage Grain have broken ground in dozens of towns and cities and managed to enable 20,000 premises.

    It’s legitimate to hope that someone will be dazzled by how many towns and cities they’ve presence in and score a sale, however I’ve no idea how that’ll happen.

    If they were building a large scale metro in each area I’d get it. They seem to be building in areas where the premises are densely clustered which obviously means less digging per premises. They are also, unfortunately, overbuilding Openreach, VM, and either existing or in-progress CityFibre FTTP builds, alongside in many cases PIA altnets.

    I know the sunk cost fallacy is a powerful one but sheesh.

    1. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Just to also state the obvious they aren’t using existing assets in all the builds I’ve seen, putting their costs a little higher than the early massaged CityFibre per premises numbers at best and comparable to the original cable company builds but likely worse as they don’t have the scale in any individual area those did.

      Of all the altnets, and there have been some insane builds, Grain seem the most bubblicious. Hull is, at first impression, about as good as it’ll get for them. Everywhere else others are queuing up to eat their lunch on cost per premises and selling equivalent products for less.

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