TalkTalk creates FibreNation to build and manage full fibre infrastructure

TalkTalk has created a new company to build its planned fibre to the premise (FTTP) network and manage the infrastructure on behalf of all wholesale customers.

FibreNation will have its own independent chair and TalkTalk is seeking potential partners to find a long-term capital structure.

TalkTalk has long been critical of Openreach’s technology strategy and close relationship with parent BT, arguing that the decision to invest in Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) was motivated by a desire to sweat BT’s copper assets to the detriment of the country and Openreach’s wholesale partners.

TalkTalk FibreNation

A joint-venture between TalkTalk and Sky to build a trial FTTP network in York was established in 2014 and has been used to gain network deployment knowledge and assess customer demand.

The trial has deemed to be a success and earlier this year TalkTalk announced plans to expand coverage to more than three million homes and premises. TalkTalk has since taken over the joint-venture, but Sky will be one of the first wholesale customers for the new, enlarged network.

The hope is that FibreNation will deliver superior broadband services for TalkTalk and Sky’s customers and offer a wholesale alternative to Openreach for other broadband providers. Mobile operators will also have a new option for backhaul services.

“We’re delighted to launch FibreNation and set out our plan to deliver world class broadband to three million homes and businesses,” declared Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk CEO.

“For too long, Britain has trailed the rest of the world when it comes to broadband speed and reliability. We’re determined to change that and invest in the faster, more reliable broadband Britain deserves. This is just the beginning of our plans to be at the heart of Britain’s full fibre future.

“We are very confident in the asset we have created in York and will continue discussions with potential partners to agree a capital structure that reflects that. In the meantime, we’re accelerating our rollout plans.”

Network expansion

However, rollout will take time. Having built out its network in York, the next confirmed locations are nearby Harrogate, Ripon and Knaresborough. This expansion will bring the total footprint to 100,000.

Openreach itself is accelerating its FTTP deployment plans, while Vodafone and CityFibre are building a full fibre network that could eventually reach five million premises.

“Having rolled out full fibre networks around the world, I’m excited to start building in Britain,” added Paul Reynolds, incoming Chair of FibreNation, “This infrastructure will transform how families and businesses use the internet and I’m committed to ensuring it’s affordable to all. I’m delighted to have two of the UK’s largest internet service providers as customers and look forward to working with them to deliver the faster, more reliable broadband Britain needs.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.