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KCOM Claim Progress on Broadband Infrastructure Sharing in Hull UK

Thursday, Mar 14th, 2024 (4:43 pm) - Score 1,480
KCOM Outdoor Engineer Installing FTTP Box

Hull-based ISP and network operator KCOM, which is building a Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network across East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in England, today claims to have made progress on the thorny issue of infrastructure sharing after sending a feasibility study on PIA (cable duct and pole access) to rival Connexin.

In case anybody has forgotten. Connexin is one of several alternative networks (e.g. MS3) that are currently overbuilding parts of KCOM’s existing full fibre network in the Hull area. KCOM has traditionally been the dominant provider and holds significant market power (SMP) in much of the area, which is something the new entrants are seeking to change.

NOTE: Connexin is backed by an investment of £80m from PATRIZIA and currently has 25,000 customers (May 2023).

The law does require KCOM to fairly share access to their existing infrastructure in Hull (ATI Regulations). But rival operators expecting the same level of access, flexibility and affordability as the regulated PIA solution from Openreach have often run into problems with KCOM’s sadly confidential commercial terms.

As a result, Connexin and others end up having to build new infrastructure, such as poles, which tends to irritate some local communities. In recent months this has become much more of a political issue (here and here). Suffice to say, KCOM are increasingly keen to show that they’re proactively responding to the calls for greater access to existing infrastructure, which would help to reduce the level of newly built ducts and poles etc.

The news today is that KCOM “has delivered a plan” to Connexin that they say “could enable other broadband providers to share its passive infrastructure without the need for more telegraph poles.” The “plan” seems to reflect the results of a recent “feasibility study“, which describes how “other broadband providers could deliver their services using KCOM’s infrastructure“.

A KCOM spokesperson said:

“Since receiving Connexin’s request for access to our passive infrastructure in January, our teams have worked flat out, from a standing start, to create a blueprint of systems and processes to handle and deliver requests for sharing KCOM’s ducts and poles, potentially saving local residents from the stress and inconvenience caused by the proliferation of new poles in streets across Hull and East Yorkshire.

Today, we’ve passed that to Connexin, on a confidential basis, and asked for its views. We want to know if it would meet Connexin’s requirements. Subject to its comments, we hope to start commercial negotiations in April.”

On the surface this does represent progress, although we’ve yet to hear what Connexin thinks of the details (we’ve asked and will report back). But it also helps to highlight the difficulties. In an Openreach area there’s a clear, open and well-established process for doing all this, which all operators can access on the same basis. But KCOM still seem to be a way off having a truly Openreach PIA-like product, and there are doubts about what can be achieved without more direct regulatory intervention (it took years for Openreach’s PIA to become what it is today).

Nevertheless, KCOM says they’ve “repeatedly stated that [we’re] willing to work with other providers to provide fair and reasonable access to [our] passive infrastructure“. But the operator also adds that they have not received any other requests, aside from Connexin’s, for access to their passive infrastructure under the regulatory scheme established by Ofcom.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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10 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Craig says:

    I fail to see the need for this to be kept confidential given how much of an issue it has become.

    All they need to do is mirror the operation of Openreach PIA, including pricing.

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      Needs Ofcom to step in and kick KCOM’s backside.

  2. Avatar photo Alex A says:

    “Since receiving Connexin’s request for access to our passive infrastructure in January”

    Ofcom require them to offer access, shouldn’t this have been sorted out before Connexin asked?

  3. Avatar photo James says:

    This looks a bit like KCOM have been waiting for Connexin and MS3 to finish the majority of their pole deployment before ‘playing nice.’

  4. Avatar photo Guy Miller says:

    This hopefully is finally the start of some true collaboration and could be great for the people of Hull and surrounding areas.

    I fail to see why these terms are confidential however and not even being shared with us (MS3) when we have specifically written to KCOM’s CEO saying we want to be involved in the creation of their version of PIA, as well as filing multiple ATI requests over the last two years in order to share their passive infrastructure.

    I will be writing to the CEO later today to ensure that if they are genuine about providing a fairly priced and usable product that they also offer it to their largest competitor in the city.

    1. Avatar photo James says:

      Keep doing what you’re doing, Guy.

      You’ll get there eventually, I hope!

    2. Avatar photo Julie Dervey says:

      Hello Guy Miller,

      Why haven’t you explained that you are the CEO of MS3 Networks in your comment?
      How many times, precisely, has your company applied to KCOM to share infrastructure and specifically which areas and when?
      Surely as you’re so desperate to ensure that all of your dealings are entirely transparent you will be extremely happy to provide this information?

    3. Avatar photo James says:

      Julie.

      Why does he have to tell you who he is?

      There’s plenty of information from MS3 on here if you searched – https://www.ispreview.co.uk/searchsite-results.php?q=guy+miller

    4. Avatar photo Guy Miller says:

      Hello Julie – I’ve put my full name in and said I am from MS3, I believe that’s pretty transparent on an industry forum.

      To answer your question, I can only repeat what we have posted on our website which I know you have seen:

      Do MS3 approach KCOM every time it wants to build to try and share their infrastructure?

      In the last year, we’ve built our network at scale, passing around 10,000 additional homes and businesses each month in multiple locations. In areas with BT Openreach ducts and poles, this can be achieved with a simple, regulated system that means we just need to notify them of where we are working, what we have done and when we finish.

      The situation with KCOM is very different to that of BT Openreach, and until now, all of our requests to share KCOM’s infrastructure has been using the legal framework in the Access to Infrastructure Regulations (ATI). This framework is not really designed for scale and for that reason we don’t file a request each time.

      We have reviewed the outcomes of the requests we have made and from a commercial perspective it does not currently cost in for MS3 to use the KCOM infrastructure. Where we can, we will also consider using local council owned infrastructure to reduce disruption.

  5. Avatar photo miken says:

    There are some documents that may be of interest on https://www.kcom.com/wholesale/products/service-information/network-access-requests/ I thought it was a bit strange that they published Connexins request.

    https://www.kcom.com/wholesale/media/zpnexsay/connexin-sor-template-jan-18-2024.pdf
    https://www.kcom.com/wholesale/media/jptfn15m/cxn-kcom-smp-access-request-for-hull-and-east-riding-sent.pdf
    https://www.kcom.com/wholesale/media/w5kenmly/cxn-kcom-hedon-supplementory-document-inventory-sent.pdf

    Connexin basically asked for an equivalent to Openreach PIA, and I expect if they don’t get what they consider a reasonable offer then they’ll have something to go to Ofcom with to try and pressure them to intervene.

    Good on them for the effort but I doubt they really went into it expecting they’d get the same pricing/terms as Openreach.

Comments are closed

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