The Independent Networks Cooperative Association

Altnet Awards

Supporting information

KCOM has been at the heart of Hull and East Yorkshire for more than a hundred years.

Our story started back in 1904 when a quirk of history gave Hull its own independent phone company – and to this day Hull and East Yorkshire remains the only part of the UK not served by BT. In the 114 years since, first as the Hull Corporation Telephone Department and then as KCOM, we have been pioneers in the areas of communication and connectivity. In 1989 we launched Europe’s first fully digital network. In 1998 we launched Europe’s first commercial “fast internet” service using ADSL technology.

In 2012 KCOM was once again ahead of the game, launching the rollout of our ultrafast Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) network, known as Lightstream. While the rest of the UK waited to see what the future of broadband would look like, we took a leap of faith and began our £85m programme of investment that would bring a world class full fibre service to our customers.

In 2018, we began the final phase of our rollout to make Lightstream available to the final 25 per cent of our network.

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By March 2019, our deployment will be complete, bringing the benefits of FTTP broadband to more than 200,000 homes and businesses and making Hull and East Yorkshire one of the fastest and most connected areas on the planet.

Throughout 2018 KCOM has connected a new customer to Lightstream every 20 minutes, enabling households to enjoy download speeds of 400Mbps (megabits per second) while businesses can connect at one Gigabit per second. The future-proofed nature of our full fibre technology will enable even faster speeds to be delivered in the future.

The arrival of Lightstream has underpinned a huge resurgence in the Hull economy, enabled the digital and tech sector to flourish and cemented the city’s reputation as the UK’s digital capital.

It has also enabled whole communities to get online, encouraged digital inclusion and helped reinvent Hull as a vibrant, 21st century city.

In 2018, the digital revolution reached a pivotal moment in Hull when more people began using full fibre broadband than standard copper connections for the first time. Our take-up rate is impressive, with 67 per cent of properties that can connect to Lightstream doing so.

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what local householders, businesses, city leaders and industry analysts think of the impact our FTTP network has had on Hull and the surrounding region.

A major factor underpinning the region’s tech sector growth, according to Tech Nation 2018, is its ultrafast internet speeds and KCOM’s full fibre broadband network.

The impact of our FTTP deployment

Employment in Hull is at a record high. There are 14,000 more jobs in Hull than there were five years ago and the digital sector plays an important part in that.

Matt Hancock MP, former Minister for Digital: “Around the world the evidence increasingly points to fibre rollout as the underpinning of a digital nation. To those who say it’s been tried and failed, I say go to Hull.

“Full fibre is the future, and so I'm delighted that KCOM is now entering the final stage of its ambitious rollout of full fibre broadband to homes and businesses in Hull.

“Rapid advances in technologies mean the need for ever faster broadband is only going to increase, and so it's wonderful news that the people of Hull will all be able to enjoy the gold standard, future proof connectivity that full fibre broadband offers.”

Matt Hancock
Stephen Brady

Hull City Council Leader Stephen Brady: “We know how important good connectivity is for business, and for our residents.

“It is superb that Hull is the best-connected city in the UK, enabling businesses to operate as effectively as possible. Infrastructure such as excellent digital connectivity, is a key part of having all the elements in place to attract more global businesses to locate here, and create more jobs.

“KCOM has done an excellent job rolling out full fibre across the city.”

Matt Yardley, Analysys Mason: “KCOM has made the bold, and in my view, right decision to invest in fibre-to-the-premises, putting the city in the vanguard of ultrafast connectivity in the UK.

“Their highly future-proofed network will enable the next wave of ultrafast products and services to be delivered which should in turn provide real benefits to customers and citizens across Hull.”

Matt Yardley

By March 2019 KCOM will have installed more than 11,000,000 metres of fibre cable, enough to stretch around the Moon

Total investment in rolling out our Lightstream full fibre network

Every £1 invested in ultrafast broadband delivers a £20 economic benefit

Throughout 2018, Lightstream will become available to 3,000 new properties a month

Innovative solutions to technical challenges

Deploying a FTTP network across a region which comprises a diverse mix of both urban and rural landscapes presents many challenges - and calls for some innovative solutions.

There is no “one size fits all” solution to bringing full fibre to different properties, communities and areas.

Flexibility with planning and speed of deployment has been central to our network deployment.

With a cost of up to £100 per metre and a slower build process, our engineers try not to dig if they can, hence our preference for aerial access which makes up 70 per cent of the fibre network.

The advantage of aerial has been that KCOM’s poles are already in place and that any new ones do not need planning permission unless they are in a conservation area.

KCOM female engineer installing Lightstream
KCOM male engineer installing Lightstream

Where possible, we have piggy backed fibre deployment onto other works such as our defective pole replacement programme.

A “slot cutting” or micro trenching technique has also been used, again reducing costs. As an example, we were quoted more than £40,000 for trenching to one remote property. The same site was micro trenched for less than two per cent of that.

Overbuilding our existing network has also been a bonus in terms of using existing wayleaves as these are already in place for pole fed fibre. We have had to overcome some issues however, for instance when we wanted to take fibre across a number of roofs belonging to terraced houses and drop down to the end house. Permission has to be gained for wayleaves for all these houses and if one refused permission we have had to put in a new pole outside that house

In 2017 the digital and tech sectors supported 7,008 jobs in the Hull area, nearly a hundred more than in the previous 12 months, and added £402m worth of value to the local economy.

Lightstream has helped whole communities get online

Jobs in the digital and tech sectors in Hull have increased by 15 per cent since 2014, beating the national average of 13.2 per cent.