TalkTalk discusses plans to connect 10m homes with gigabit fibre as part of national rollout
TalkTalk intends to offer 1Gbps broadband to ten million homes as part of its plans to build Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) networks across the country and has called BT’s rollout of Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) as an “interim” measure.
A joint-venture between TalkTalk, Sky and CityFibre is currently constructing an FTTP network in York in a bid to reduce dependency on BT’s Openreach fibre network, and if the project is successful, the model will be replicated in other cities across the country.
York was chosen because of the existing CityFibre FTTP network, enthusiasm from the local business community and authorities and because it is typical of UK cities with 150,000 to 200,000 inhabitants.
TalkTalk FTTP plans
Technical trials will be carried out in the next few weeks with a view to connecting the first consumers and businesses in early 2015. Once the project is deemed to be successful, the network will opened up on a wholesale basis to other providers, representing a challenge to BT’s dominance.
“We’re very serious about the scale here but we’re also incredibly pragmatic,” Charles Bligh, managing director of TalkTalk Business told the Huawei Ultra Broadband Forum in London, adding he personally spends half of his time on the project.
He said that to prove the concept, the joint-venture would need to make sure the cost per connection is less than £500 and that the adoption rate is higher than 30-40 percent. Once these two conditions have been met, the partners will look to expand to other cities, although specific locations have not yet been discussed.
“Our aim here is very much to get to 50 to 60 percent of UK households and certainly a huge business community within that with this rollout over time,” he said.
BT is currently testing G.FAST technology in a bid to increase the speeds possible using FTTC infrastructure, but Bligh says the jump from FTTC to FTTP is as big as it was from dial up to broadband
“We’ve spent a couple of years talking about the BT rollout, but it’s an interim step in terms of really pure gigabit fibre,” he declared. “We’ve decided to put our reputation on the line, but also some money into this. We’re putting our money where our mouth is.”
Bligh also claimed FTTP would be a true mass-market product, unlike FTTC, which is charged as a premium service for which the main selling point is that it’s better than copper, and suggested TalkTalk would be aggressive with pricing.
“TalkTalk has been part of disrupting price points,” he said. “We’re very deadly serious about making this go right.”