22 Jul 2011
UK-based KCom Group has revealed that it plans to upgrade its existing copper network in the Hull and East Yorkshire area with fibre-optics as it looks to boost the speeds available to customers. According to local news source The Yorkshire Post, KCom – which offers services to consumers and businesses via its KC unit – is looking at a fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) rollout with a view to boosting the maximum available downlink speeds to up to 50Mbps; currently more than 60% of the operator’s customers receive speeds of at least 6Mbps, with 24Mbps speeds available in selected areas. The desire to upgrade reportedly comes on the back of increased demand for data-hungry applications, while it has been suggested that the network improvements would also provide KC scope to boost its broadband penetration in Hull from 55%. The company has not disclosed how much it expects the upgrade to cost, but has said that it will fund the work through its existing cash flow. The first phase of the fibre deployment is expected to take around 18 months, and will cover around 15,000 premises, with KCom noting: ‘Further investment beyond this initial deployment is dependent on a favourable commercial outcome.’
Holding a virtual monopoly in city of Hull – KC has a market share of around 90% of fixed line connections and broadband there – the telco’s share across East Yorkshire reportedly falls to around 60%. With a view to boosting its presence outside of Hull, KCom is unbundling BT exchanges in towns such as Withernsea and Hornsea as it eyes what it has said is a potential market of between 30,000 and 40,000 customers. Expansion to larger cities such as Doncaster, York or Leeds, however, is not understood to be on the agenda, due to higher levels of competition in the aforementioned places.
Telecompaper meanwhile reports that KC will face new competition in Hull, with reports that a new company, MS3 Communications, has been set up to offer an independent data and telecommunications network in the city. The new player will, it is claimed, make an initial investment of GBP3.5 million (USD5.67 million), and once its 116km network is complete MS3 will allow resellers to offer services over the infrastructure independent of KC.