Sky experiments with its own fibre infrastructure in Hampshire and could hold more trials elsewhere
Sky is to build a trial fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network in Basingstoke, raising the possibility that it could be ready to build its own superfast broadband infrastructure.
The company is inviting residents in an area of the Hampshire town to participate in the technical trial, which promises speeds of up to 950Mbps over an Ethernet connection, for a period of one year.
“We believe that residents in Basingstoke are interested in superfast fibre services, and we are keen to get involved with the County Council and its Hampshire Superfast Broadband Programme,” says Sky, which is operating the trial under the moniker of Love Digital TV.
Sky Basingstoke trial
The fact that Sky mentions it is cooperating with Hampshire County Council is curious, given that BT has been given all of the council’s money from the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative, although TechWeekEurope understands Sky’s trial is taking place outside of the areas earmarked for fibre rollout as part of existing projects.
Sky’s network is to be small-scale and separate from all existing communications. A fibre cable will be connected from a property to a pole carrying overhead cables. Sky recommends participants keep their current broadband service for the duration of the trial as it will be switched off after 12 months. Participants must be a Sky subscriber, but anyone involved will be eligible for half price television.
The vast majority of Sky broadband services are currently delivered over Openreach’s fibre and copper networks, but Sky has recently indicated a desire to reduce its dependency on BT as competition in the UK communications market intensifies.
Sky and TalkTalk have agreed a joint-venture with CityFibre to build a fibre network in York based on the latter’s existing infrastructure, and plan to expand this model to other CityFibre cites.
However this the first time Sky has indicated it is willing to go alone, suggesting there could be more trials in the future.
“This is just one of many trials we are undertaking around the country. Our approach is going to be flexible and local as no one size fits all across the UK,” it says. “In some areas demand for very high speed products will be greater, and in some areas the cost of delivering this will be less. Technical trials in these initial areas are helping us explore these opportunities, and the decision on when and how we extend, will be based on their success.”