Sky, TalkTalk and CityFibre to Expand 1Gbps FTTP Broadband Rollout in York - ISPreview UK
CityFibre’s Joint Venture with Sky Broadband and TalkTalk, which is deploying an “ultra-fast” 1000Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH/P) broadband network to homes in the city of York (England), claims to have completed its first roll-out phase and confirmed plans to accelerate and increase the scale of their deployment.

The project, which was announced almost a year ago (here) and is supported by an initial investment of £5 million from each of Sky Broadband and TalkTalk, is based off CityFibre’s existing 10Gbps (Gigabits per second) capable and 103km long fibre optic ring network (The York Core).

A short update published by TalkTalk in February 2015 said, “[We] continued to make progress during the quarter with the commencement of civil engineering work including the laying of our first microtrenched fibre runs. We remain on track to connect the first customers onto the network later this year, and are excited about the longer term roll-out prospects.

As we understood it from last year’s announcement and subsequent updates, the first confirmed phase of the roll-out would put the service within reach of 20,000 homes (York is home to a total of around 80,000). But today’s update is somewhat less specific and we suspect that this goal has yet to be achieved.

CityFibre’s Phase One Status

This first phase has focused on enabling the Joint Venture partners to validate key network design principles, engineering processes and deployment economics. Based on the encouraging results and progress of this first phase, the Joint Venture has now approved the next phase of deployment, which will accelerate and increase the scale, bringing gigabit speed connectivity to thousands more properties in York

The project will continue to develop and test the optimal FTTP deployment methods and the ability to scale roll-outs in order to create a state of the art pure fibre network fully independent of BT Openreach’s infrastructure. The network will be deployed and tested in preparation for the launch of services by Sky and TalkTalk later in the year

Unfortunately what’s missing from the above update is any definition for what the accelerated and increased deployment actually references or even a clear timescale (we have asked). After one year we’re also still largely in the dark about which specific areas will benefit first, aside from a few vague hints about general locality and local reports of street works.

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:

We are really pleased with what we have accomplished so far. As a team, Sky, TalkTalk and CityFibre have validated a network design for true ultra-fast Fibre to the Home (FTTH) for residents and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) for business users.

This next phase will accelerate the deployment and will further help to determine the scalability of the infrastructure. Without the bottlenecks that exist in traditional networks, an ultra-fast fibre infrastructure will future-proof a city, offering superior quality of service and higher speeds as demand for bandwidth increases
It’s been said before that the roll-out will take 18-24 months and that any expansion beyond the first 20,000 mark would require additional investment from the two ISPs, although at this stage no further commitments have been revealed.

Meanwhile Sky Broadband and TalkTalk together already serve 45% of all broadband customers in York, although getting them to upgrade from a cheap ADSL or FTTC service to a potentially more expensive FTTH/P solution might be a challenge. As such it’s been suggested that the ISPs may attempt to migrate customers automatically, possibly at no extra cost (not yet confirmed), although doing that would make it harder to recoup the investment.

Separately TalkTalk’s CEO, Dido Harding, has repeatedly spoken of her aspiration for the FTTH network to reach 10 million homes across the United Kingdom. It’s also been suggested that the project in York could potentially deploy FTTH for a lower price than BT’s FTTC, although this has yet to be proven.

In TalkTalk’s words, “We believe the economics of our approach to FTTP could prove highly attractive, with a combination of scale and low cost build technology delivering a significantly lower cost per home passed than for the current FTTC infrastructure.” Hopefully the proof will come soon.