Sky and TalkTalk have teamed up to deliver 1,000Mbps (1Gbps) broadband to the City of York.
The two firms, along with fibre optic infrastructure developer CityFibre, will create a new company and begin building a "state of the art, city-wide, pure fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network", which they said will offer speeds of one gigabit to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.
Sky and TalkTalk have invested £5m each in the project, which will see the first 20,000 properties connected.
The network will use CityFibre's existing metro fibre infrastructure in York. Once it is in place, Sky and TalkTalk will sell competing broadband services over the new infrastructure. Fujistu will be called upon to deploy the pure FTTP network, which the firms claim will allow them to offer better value for higher speeds.
The move will see Sky and TalkTalk reduce their reliance on BT’s wholesale network, as they will be able to bypass BT’s infrastructure and instead use their own. It comes just weeks after the government was accused of handing BT a monopoly in the rural broadband market, having reportedly given all 44 contracts from its £1.2bn broadband scheme to the telecoms giant.
TalkTalk Group chief executive Dido Harding said the deal marks the firm taking its first steps into infrastructure investment. Currently, the ISP relies on BT copper or fibre networks to provide the last mile of connections for TalkTalk customers.
TalkTalk told V3 that the move would give the firm more control over its networks, letting it trial different approaches to broadband provision as it will now control the connection right into homes and businesses. This could also see more competitive costs on offer for customers, as TalkTalk will no longer need to pay BT wholesale rental charges.
The first customers are expected to be connected to the ultra-fast network in 2015. Sky and TalkTalk also plan to extend the gigabit broadband service to two more UK cities, although these are still to be announced. Pricing details have yet to be revealed.
TalkTalk said York was chosen for this first rollout out as the council and local stakeholders had already shown via infrastructure investments that the city is keen to be the digital capital of the UK. The city is also densely populated, and CityFibre already had a metro network in place.
The Yorkshire region is clearly a hotbed of high-speed activity. Last week, Virgin Media Business announced it had extended a partnership with network provider LN Communications to provide fast connectivity to five million people in Yorkshire.
The three-year, £350,000 deal will let LN Communications offer superfast broadband to eight sites across Yorkshire by the end of April 2015. Once complete, customers will have access to Virgin Media’s fibre-optic broadband and WiFi services of up to 152Mbps.
The move could be good news for businesses operating in the region, as Virgin Media also revealed that plans are in place to plug individual business parks straight into the network.
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