INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS (ISPs) Sky and Talktalk have joined forces with fibre optic infrastructure developer Cityfibre to deliver gigabit, or 1,000Mbps, broadband service to the City of York.
In a bid to tackle BT, which last year unveiled plans to trial 10 gigabit broadband in Cornwall, the three firms will create a new company and begin building a "state of the art, city-wide, pure fibre-to-the-premise network" which will serve "tens of thousands" of homes and businesses.
Talktalk said that the venture will use Cityfibre's existing metro fibre infrastructure in York, and once it is in place, the firms will retail competing broadband services over the new infrastructure. The joint venture also plans to contract with Fujistu to deploy the pure fibre FTTP network, which the firms claim will allow them to offer better value for higher speeds, and will "increase both choice and innovation".
This promise comes just weeks after the government was accused of handing BT a "monopoly" in the rural broadband market, having reportedly given all of the 44 contracts from its £1.2bn broadband scheme to the telecoms giant.
Talktalk Group CEO Dido Harding said, "Talktalk has a long history and proven track record of disrupting new markets, and this is the next step in that journey. We are excited to be working in partnership with Sky and Cityfibre to build this new network that will offer significantly higher speeds at much better value than is currently available.
"This marks Talktalk taking its first steps into investing in building infrastructure as part of our mission to make British homes and businesses better off."
Counciller James Alexander, leader of the City of York council, added, "This announcement makes York the digital infrastructure capital of the UK. Gaining ultra-fast broadband across the city is a huge boost for our economy; providing significant new opportunities for businesses based here and better quality and value to our residents."
The first customers are expected to be connected to the ultra-fast network in 2015, and Sky and Talktalk are promising to bring gigabit WiFi to two more UK cities, although these are still to be announced.
Pricing and availability details will also be revealed in due course. µ