CityFibre has been promising a lot in terms of fibre to the premises and a new partnership between Sky, TalkTalk and CityFibre may actually be about to deliver on the potential with a Gigabit to the home network in the City of York.
"TalkTalk has a long history and proven track record of disrupting new markets, and this is the next step in that journey. We are excited to be working in partnership with Sky and CityFibre to build this new network that will offer significantly higher speeds at much better value than is currently available. This marks TalkTalk taking its first steps into investing in building infrastructure as part of our mission to make British homes and businesses better off."Dido Harding, Chief Executive of TalkTalk Group
The announcement today describes the roll-out as city-wide, which potentially means it will be available to some 85,000 households and leverages on the core network that CityFibre connected its first business customer to back in 2013. There is little information on the price, which while lots of people want faster speeds they are still traditionally very price sensitive, the press release makes the suggestion that the service will be faster and cheaper than current high speed products. This we believe means faster than 152 Mbps and cheaper than £37.50 per month, given the existing price points for Gigabit services in the UK we might see a £60 price point. The first customers are expected in 2015 so it is likely no pricing will be announced until then.
"This announcement makes York the digital infrastructure capital of the UK. Gaining ultra-fast broadband across the city is a huge boost for our economy; providing significant new opportunities for businesses based here and better quality and value to our residents.
I’m delighted that York has been chosen as the first city, building on work over the last two years to improve the city’s digital infrastructure, and that we’ll see this in place as soon as 2015."Cllr James Alexander, Leader of City of York council
York is not the first place where CityFibre has a residential Gigabit network, there is Bournemouth where the service is available to 20,000 homes, but due to complications during the roll-out and a lack of marketing at last count there was just 250 customers.
The challenge for this three way split where CityFibre, Sky and TalkTalk all own one third of the equity in the company deploying the network from the core to the homes will be stiff competition from Virgin Media and BT. The marketing departments of Sky and TalkTalk are sure to be able to capitalise on tempting existing customers over to the new network.
CityFibre is suggesting that two more cities will be announced in due course, so it will be with great interest to see how the project progresses.
If only partnerships like this could have been formed four years ago, we might have had 15 to 20 Gigabit cities and there would have been no need for the superconnected voucher scheme, allowing a larger pot of funding to be used for the rural areas. Additionally if local authorities across the UK had been able to see a vibrant and growing Fibre to the Home (FTTH alternatively called FTTP) footprint there might have been more competition in the BDUK process.
Update 12:30pm The competition has started and BT has issued the following response:
"I welcome the competition. The UK is already ahead of France, Germany, Spain and Italy when it comes to fibre and demand is growing rapidly. In fact, today's report from Ofcom shows that speeds have increased 48 per cent in the past year alone.
Openreach's fibre network covers more than 18 million premises and is open to all companies on equal and competitive terms. Customers and business are already benefitting from our high internet speeds and low prices.
Openreach already offers Fibre To The Premises in parts of York. This means that customers and businesses in the City will have even more choice which can only be a good thing. We will continue to respond to our customers evolving needs.Joe Garner, CEO of Openreach
Looking at the checkers, all six exchanges inside the York ring road offer FTTC and Fibre on Demand, and four actually offer or have plans to offer native FTTP (i.e. full fibre to the premises with the same install costs as the FTTC services). The Haxby exchange has some actual live FTTP available that we could find and seems to be around The Garden Village, Earswick (YO32 9TP), there also appears to be some FTTP in the BDUK plans for various York exchanges mainly to service Exchange only lines (e.g Rawcliffe and Woodthorpe) as part of the NYNet plans. Fingers crossed the CityFibre/Sky/TalkTalk roll-out will not overbuild the BDUK areas and thus waste taxpayer money and create the scenario where people go from basic broadband to a choice to two full FTTP options.