broadband Business

TalkTalk Fibre to the premises

TalkTalk Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) rollout in York announced

I’ve been doing a bit of background work on UK broadband service provision, the output of which will appear in the fullness of time, in due course (etc etc). Yesterday the Twittersphere threw out the news that TalkTalk fibre to the premises was being rolled out in York. Digging into this (as one does when installing fibre 🙂 ) it seems that this is a part of a deal involving City Fibre Holdings, Fujitsu and Sky, TalkTalk and Sky presumably being the channel/retail partners.

I’m not going to regurgitate general press release blurb that you can find for yourselves. However it is worth saying that in the longer term the whole of the UK needs to be lit up with FTTP. I have pals working for BT who will nay say this and that Fibre To The Cabinet has plenty of mileage in it yet and that people don’t need the 1Gbps+ speeds that FTTP offers. They are right, at the moment.

The argument also comes partly from the fact that businesses need to see a return on their capital investments.  In telecoms this is a very long term game – BT’s Cornwall project for example had a ROI of 12 years only because of EU funding and even then I don’t think it met its subscriber targets which would have further pushed out the time to money date. Add to this the ferociously competitive marketplace with deals such as Sky’s £0 for the first year of unlimited Fibre and it is no wonder that large telcos such as BT don’t see a business case for ubiquitous FTTP.

The TalkTalk fibre to the premises availability in York is going to be an interesting one to watch. Interesting from the point of view of seeing the take up of the service and interesting to see if the business case pans out. York is a far more manageable proposition than the UK as a whole. It will involve capital but probably only a few tens of millions and not the £29 Billion that doing the whole of the UK would supposedly cost (see Caio report here). It will also be interesting to see how the infrastructure sharing works out (ie using BT’s ducts and poles) assuming that is the plan. Lots of scope for confusion there.

Having spent a fair chunk of my recent life looking at tweets about TalkTalk fibre and other broadband ISPs it is easy to see how fibre might take some problems away. Tweets either slate the ISP for poor speed, no speed or engineer no-shows and time spent on hold on the telephone. The poor speeds are often down to the copper line and perhaps end user expectations. This would largely disappear with FTTP (congested core networks aside but there really is no excuse for that nowadays). Engineer no shows I imagine are mostly down to resource problems due to having to cope with an ageing copper network and an increased demand for FTTC. The telephone hold times are a function of the problems caused by these factors.

So the TalkTalk fibre (and, lets be fair, Sky fibre too) rollout in York could be the forerunner of an Utopian ISP world where there are never any complaints about speed and the engineers turn up when expected because they don’t have any copper lines to mend (or replace those pinched). This world is also where probably the good citizens of that fair city spend their time playing with new and hitherto unimagined services happily available on their unbelievably fast and stable broadband lines.

TalkTalk fibre in York? It must be so.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,