TalkTalk’s FibreNation Start FTTH Broadband Rollout in Dewsbury UK

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The FibreNation project, which was established by UK ISP TalkTalk and aspires to deploy a 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network to cover 3 million premises, has today confirmed that the West Yorkshire town of Dewsbury (population of 65,000) has been added to their initial rollout plan.

Until today the network’s only foray into the world of 1Gbps FTTH ultrafast broadband has been their deployment in York, which started out as a joint project with Sky Broadband (Sky remain a wholesale partner) and Cityfibre but is now being conducted independently. At the last count they’d covered 40,000 premises in the city and prior aim was to reach 55,000 by 2020 (here and here).

Last year the ISP announced the launch of a new wholesale company called FibreNation (subsidiary of TalkTalk), which had originally planned to work with Infracapital on a £1.5bn investment to cover 3 million UK premises with a new wholly owned full fibre network. Unfortunately the Infracapital deal failed to materialise after a disagreement (here) and as such they’re still hunting for investors.

In the meantime FibreNation has already proposed to start work on a more limited deployment, which would initially aim to rollout “full fibre” to nearly 60,000 premises in three towns and cities: Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon (rises to 100,000+ premises when York is included).

NOTE: Ripon has a population of 16,000 and so does Knaresborough, while Harrogate is home to 75,000.

Dewsbury is thus the fourth town to be added to the above list (excluding York, which is a city) and, perhaps oddly, it’s also the first location where construction is solidly confirmed as having started on the FibreNation project.

Paul Crane, Head of Engagement and Rollout at FibreNation, said:

“We are excited to announce we are bringing full fibre to Dewsbury in the next phase of our rollout. There is a huge discrepancy between the UK and the rest of Europe when it comes to full fibre connectivity and we must bridge that gap. Currently, compared to 80% elsewhere in Europe only 8% of UK homes and businesses can connect to a full fibre network, and this simply has to change in order to power up the nation’s economy.

Fibre is the fourth utility we’ve all been waiting for and we’re proud to be at the forefront of its rollout.”

Peter McBride, Deputy Leader of Kirklees Council, said:

“Kirklees Council is delighted to see full fibre arrive in Dewsbury. The Council has a clear vision for Dewsbury to be a well-connected town and to support initiatives that will drive economic growth, improve employment prospects and improve the cultural experience. This announcement will place Dewsbury in select group of northern towns to benefit from such high-speed services.”

The press release makes no mention of the deployment cost for this town or how many premises are expected to benefit, although the first properties in Dewsbury should be able to get connected by October 2019 and the work is then due to be completed by 2022. Apparently work will then start around Harrogate, Ripon and Knaresborough during the coming Autumn 2019 period (originally it was Summer 2019).

At present Dewsbury is predominantly served by Openreach’s slower FTTC superfast broadband technology and only a tiny amount of their FTTP, while roughly half of the town should be reachable via Virgin Media’s ultrafast (500Mbps+) cable broadband / TV network. As such there should be scope to sustain a third primary full fibre network in the area.

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