Sky and TalkTalk partner on FTTP rollout in York

UK fixed line players Sky and TalkTalk have created a joint venture to deliver fibre to the premises across the city of York. The firms have taken equal shares in the JV, along with fibre infrastructure provider CityFibre, to build a nationwide FTTP network promising broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps to businesses and homes in the city.

The firms said that the rollout allows them to explore the opportunity to test out a different and potentially more cost effective approach to rolling out an FTTP network than relying on fixed line incumbent BT’s Openreach infrastructure. In April last year, former BT CEO Ian Livingston blasted critics of his company’s fibre broadband roll-out, such as TalkTalk chairman Sir Charles Dunstone, describing them as “copper luddites” with a vested interest in preventing UK homes from getting access to fibre through BT Openreach.

Sky, TalkTalk and CityFibre said that the network deployment will use the latter’s existing metro fibre infrastructure in York, complemented by technology supplied by ICT solutions provider Fujitsu. Once deployed, Sky and TalkTalk will independently retail broadband services over the infrastructure. Customers are expected to begin using the service in 2015.

Talk Talk Group CEO Dido Harding, said that the project is the firm’s latest attempt to disrupt the UK fixed line market.

“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,” she said. “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.”

In October last year, research from Informa Telecoms and Media suggested that the ability for operators to use equipment from multiple suppliers for their FTTX network rollouts is critical to their ability to drive down costs. The analyst house surveyed 237 broadband industry stakeholders and found that over half of all respondents (54 per cent) rated equipment interoperability as one of the top three challenges facing super-fast broadband deployments, while one in four operators rated equipment interoperability as the number one challenge.

“Operators need to collaborate more to create scale for their requirements, while vendors should restructure their offerings to offset potential lost sales with revenues from new opportunities related to interoperability.” Rob Gallagher, head of Broadband & TV Research for Informa said at the time.

The research also revealed that FTTP services overtook xDSL last year to become the fastest-growing segment of the fixed-broadband market. The analyst house expects FTTP rollouts to account for 328 million subscriptions, or 34 per cent of total fixed-broadband subscriptions, by the end of 2018.

In 2016, G-PON will become the dominant FTTP architecture, ITM added, and will reach over 200 million subscriptions two years later to account for three out of five FTTP subscriptions worldwide.

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