New UK ISP toob, which was only recently setup by several of Vodafone’s former directors (here) and soon after secured an investment of £75m (here), has announced that the south coast city of Southampton (Hampshire) will be the first to benefit from their rollout of a new 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network.
Under the proposed plan toob expects to invest £50 million into their deployment, which will aim to cover more than 100,000 premises (homes and businesses) across Southampton by the end of 2021. Assuming all goes to plan then the first customers could go live on their network by the end of 2019.
The ISP also added that this is only the “first step” toward achieving their “ambition to pass more than 1 million premises” by around 2029. Meanwhile residential customers will pay just £25 per month for access to their 900Mbps (average download and upload speed) package, which comes with unlimited usage and an 18 month minimum contract term.
Nick Parbutt, toob’s CEO, said:
“We are delighted to start the roll out of our full fibre network in the vibrant city of Southampton. In deploying its network, toob will create a full fibre infrastructure that will benefit residents, businesses and public services and enable the deployment of 5G and smart city projects throughout Southampton.”
Christopher Hammond, Leader of Southampton City Council, said:
“Southampton has a thriving tech sector, which we’re absolutely committed to supporting as a council. This investment from toob will strengthen our position as a digital hub by providing not only businesses, but also public services and residents with a future proof full fibre broadband infrastructure.”
As usual the biggest challenge for toob will be that as a smaller and less well established alternative network provider, albeit one with a nice funding pot to call upon, they will be targeting an area where others are already working to upgrade with “ultrafast broadband“. At present Virgin Media’s 500Mbps capable network already covers most of the city and Openreach are rolling out 330Mbps capable G.fast in a fair number of areas.
On top of that we also have the presence of Hyperoptic’s 1Gbps FTTP/B network to consider in a good number of the city’s large apartment buildings. Cityfibre has announced that their 1Gbps FTTH network will in the future also be deployed across Southampton as part of a wider £2.5bn project with Vodafone (here), although Cityfibre’s rollout may not start until much later than toob’s as it forms part of their future Phase 2 build.
Suffice to say that toob appears to have chosen a market that will soon become a lot more competitive for “full fibre” infrastructure and they’ve priced aggressively in order to compete, which is all well and good for consumers but it may make it harder to gain a return on the investment.
The operator also expects to make some use of Openreach’s existing cable ducts and poles to help deploy their network (Physical Infrastructure Access) and has previously suggested that they might be willing to share access to this once built (provided it makes commercial sense to do so).
NOTE: In our article illustration the RED area highlights toob’s initial roll-out phase, with the rest of the city set to follow later.