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    2 Years On – Waiting for Sky and TalkTalk’s 940Mb FTTH Broadband in York

    This is a discussion on 2 Years On – Waiting for Sky and TalkTalk’s 940Mb FTTH Broadband in York within the Sky news and announcements forums, part of the SkyUser Announcements category; 2 Years On - Waiting for Sky and TalkTalk's 940Mb FTTH Broadband in York - ISPreview UK It’s officially been ...

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      2 Years On – Waiting for Sky and TalkTalk’s 940Mb FTTH Broadband in York

      2 Years On - Waiting for Sky and TalkTalk's 940Mb FTTH Broadband in York - ISPreview UK
      It’s officially been two years since Cityfibre, Sky Broadband and TalkTalk announced their Joint Venture (here) to roll-out a new 940Mbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network across the city of York in England, but we’re still not clear when it will launch or whether it will progress beyond Phase One.

      Cast your minds back to 15th April 2014 and the ambition was plain for all to see. Sky and TT both ploughed £5 million each into the first phase of the roll-out, which would reach 20,000 premises and make use of Cityfibre’s existing 103km long fibre optic ring network in the city (The York Core). Fujitsu was also lined up to do the civil works.

      Back then the somewhat experimental project, which aimed to test cheaper methods of deployment (e.g. micro-trenching), envisaged connecting its first customers in 2015 and then eventually rolling out across the entire city (approx. 80,000 premises). All of this was also accompanied by talk of expanding the same FTTH approach to two further cities “in due course“.

      At the time TalkTalk’s CEO, Dido Harding, even ambitiously hinted that their new network might one day be extended to reach 10 million UK homes, albeit assuming they could keep the build costs below £500 per home passed (excludes the expensive cost of connecting the final drop to individual homes) and deliver strong uptake of 30%-40% (easier said than done). Since then Dido has perhaps been somewhat more distracted by issues of network security.

      Otherwise the rest of 2014 proved to be a very quiet, until May 2015 when the new joint Ultra Fibre Optic (UFO) brand for the network was launched and this was followed in June 2015 by TalkTalk’s first prices (here). Sky followed this in September 2015 with their own prices (here) and almost immediately after that we saw the first trial users going live (here and here).

      Since then the last official update, which was made by TalkTalk in November 2015, suggested that the ISP had attracted 262 triallists and 3,328 homes were now covered by the network (a long way short of the expected 20,000 for Phase One).

      The announcement of the first trial customers also included with it a pledge to make the service commercially available from January 2016, although this date came and went without any meaningful updates on progress (it may have been delayed due to the need for some local street repairs). Never the less it’s clear from the latest roll-out map that progress is still being made, with most of northern York now appearing to be covered and only a few bits left to do for Phase One.

      <Coverage Maps>

      Recently we have attempted to seek a progress update from all three of the key partners, but none of them were willing to give us any detail on what was happening or when we might reasonably expect the service to launch (commercially). We also still have no idea whether the network will ever expand into further cities as originally hinted.

      Similarly we’ve noted that Sky has removed the packages from their website and replaced it with a vague ‘Register your interest‘ page, while some customers who claim to have contacted Sky say they have been told that the ISP is allowing TalkTalk first dips on new subscribers (this seems odd and we are currently trying to clarify). On top of that Sky has now confirmed that they have no plans to build their own national UK fibre network (here), which may well impact any future plans for York beyond Phase One.

      Otherwise part of this on-going communication vacuum might be because we’re so close to the next round of financial results and Ofcom’s new plans for giving ISPs more access to BT’s Dark Fibre and Cable Ducts (here and here) may also be impacting the roll-out (i.e. ISPs may want to consider these before making further investments).

      Sky and TalkTalk also face another difficult challenge in York, not least since both Openreach (BT) and Virgin Media have rival hybrid-fibre networks (FTTC and EurDOCSIS) in a significant amount of the area. Virgin’s service in particular can now deliver broadband speeds of up to 200-300Mbps and pulling customers away from that will not be easy, while BT are poised to roll-out 300-500Mbps G.fast.

      On the other hand Sky and TalkTalk claim to serve around 45% (combined) of all broadband customers in York and so they’re in a strong position to sell the advantages of the new service or possibly to even offer a unique automatic upgrade. But the product has to launch first and would need to cover many more premises in order to avoid consumer confusion over availability.

      Judging by current progress we’d say that the completion of Phase One is very close and that is likely to trigger the start of a commercial launch, but in the meantime the PR silence has become almost deafening and the future beyond Phase One now looks increasingly uncertain. For the time being it’s all still just an experiment, but we wish it would become more.


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      Re: 2 Years On – Waiting for Sky and TalkTalk’s 940Mb FTTH Broadband in York

      I reckon Sky will cut their losses and bail on that project. No idea how TalkTalk will proceed with it, but I suppose Cityfibre could absorb the whole infrastructure into their empire if TT was also to pull out.
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      Re: 2 Years On – Waiting for Sky and TalkTalk’s 940Mb FTTH Broadband in York

      IMHO that would be a great shame.

      I appreciate that there was a news report last week stating that Sky has lost interest in a FTTH network of their own. This project is a collaboration of the three companies though, so technically they aren't in it on their own.

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      Re: 2 Years On – Waiting for Sky and TalkTalk’s 940Mb FTTH Broadband in York

      Was that not one of these local initiatives that the local or county council called out to talksport and sky and said help join us, rather than a trial for sky to take it nationwide as the first plan.
      From what it seems, its too expensive to supply it.

      Do think a better ploy for sky is to get their engineers inside and working on the BT network (now that Ofcom have sorted that) or buy into the virgin network rather than rebuild a new one, which is much too costly and a long term disruption problem.

     

     

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