TalkTalk to expand York FTTH network

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Sky sells stake in York fibre project to TalkTalk but will remain a wholesale customer, as TalkTalk announced plans for expansion

UK operator TalkTalk is to expand its 1Gbps fibre-to-the-home network in the city of York, covering 40,000 homes.

The company has been building the network as a joint venture with Sky and CityFibre for some time, but now TalkTalk will take leadership of the project. Sky is selling its stake to TalkTalk but will be a wholesale customer, while CityFibre will remain as a shareholder.

TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding said: “I have long been convinced that we need to be more ambitious when it comes to the UK’s digital economy, and upgrade our broadband infrastructure once and for all. What we are doing here in York is a clear demonstration of our commitment to playing our part in securing connectivity for everyone.”

Over 2,400 customers in the northern English city signed up to the service with TalkTalk and Sky since the beginning of the year, when the companies started what they describe as a “highly successful” trial.

The announcement is something of a retrenchment on the original plans. Back in 2014 CityFibre, Sky and TalkTalk spoke of the first phase reaching 20,000 premises – rather than 14,000 – and said it would ultimately cover 80,000 in the entire city, not 40,000 as in the current plan.

This week’s TalkTalk announcement said: “The build will start in the spring [2017] and is expected to reach a further 40,000 homes over 18 months, covering the vast majority of the city’s premises.”

The company’s general manager of ultrafast, Richard Sinclair, said: “We are very pleased with the success of UFO [ultra fibre optic] in York so far. Our customers are amazed at what they can do with their ultrafast connections – streaming HD TV without buffering, playing games in real time with people on the other side of the world, or simply enabling every member of the family to be online at the same time. We’re very excited to be extending our roll out – York is well on its way to achieving its ambition of becoming the digital capital of the north.”

The companies said that they expected completion of the York rollout to cost approximately £20 million during TalkTalk’s financial year ending March 2018. It will be funded by TalkTalk, with CityFibre Holdings continuing as a shareholder.

CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch said: “CityFibre sits at the centre of pure fibre investment across the UK, with dense local access fibre networks in 40 UK towns and cities. The expansion of the York trial validates our commitment to bring ultrafast broadband to both communities and businesses.”

CityFibre has major metro duct and fibre footprints in 40 cities across the UK and a national long distance network that connects these cities to data centres across the UK and to peering points in London.

Mesch added: “What we have delivered in partnership with Sky and TalkTalk has been truly ground breaking, leveraging our existing assets to deliver a state of the art fibre-to-the-premises network built efficiently and without the involvement of Openreach.”