The incumbent ISP for Hull and East Riding (East Yorkshire), KCOM, has officially announced the completion of their £85m “Lightstream” roll-out, which means that nearly all of the 200,000+ premises within their network area should now be within reach of a 900Mbps+ Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) service.
The operator’s target was to ensure that “every KCOM customer will have access to Lightstream .. by March 2019,” which in reality means that around 96% of premises within their addressable network area can now access a “full fibre” connection and roughly 4% can take a slower 75Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) solution.
During the final Q1 2019 roll-out phase (Jan – March 2019) we saw 6,410 premises being added to their network in order to reach completion and the final locations to benefit came from the Orchard Park area (e.g. Dodthorpe, Homethorpe, Thorpepark Road, Gorthorpe and Ilthorpe). At the last count some 61% of their consumer base had already upgraded to one of their Lightstream packages.
We should point out that a lot of the funding for this roll-out stemmed from KCOM’s 2015 sale of their national UK (excluding Hull) fibre optic and cable duct assets to Cityfibre (here), which raised £90m to help support their Lightstream programme. Cityfibre has gone on to seemingly make good use of their old fibre infrastructure (here).
At the time of writing the operator has not yet put out a press release, although their social media accounts have very much begun celebrating “the completion of our full fibre Lightstream network across Hull and East Yorkshire.” Queue a comically cheesy celebratory video..
The completion announcement itself actually comes a little later than KCOM’s end of March 2019 target, although we understand that this is because they still had a few small patches to complete and were concerned about the likely clash with Brexit dominating news in the same window.
In any case the achievement should make it easy for KCOM to deliver on the Government’s new legally binding Universal Service Obligation (USO) in their network patch (here), which from 2020 will require them (and BT in the rest of the UK) to deliver a minimum broadband download speed of at least 10Mbps (1Mbps upload) upon request.
Likewise the development puts KCOM in a prime position to be one of the first operators in the United Kingdom to start switching off their old legacy copper line network. Work on the prior stage of that process, which involves migrating their PSTN (analogue phone) customers to a new VoIP service, has technically already begun (here). At present no solid date has been set for switching-off the copper network itself.
At this point it’s worth reminding readers that KCOM recently accepted a cash offer of £504m for its business from Humber Bidco, which is a subsidiary of pension fund Universities Superannuation Scheme Ltd (USS) that has a track record of investing in UK infrastructure (here). The new investor believes this will “enhance the quality of [KCOMs] offering, delivering benefits for customers as well as sustainable, long-term returns.”