UK Fibre Networks Ltd to Expand FTTP Broadband Beyond York

The little known and rather generically named Altnet ISP UK Fibre Networks, which since 2019 has operated a Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network in the centre of York (England), appears to be preparing to expand their fibre and fixed wireless network into new areas of the city, as well as Bath, Harrogate, Chester, and rural villages.

The plan was revealed as part of the company’s application for Code Powers from Ofcom. Such powers are typically sought to help speed-up deployments of new fibre and cut costs, not least by reducing the number of licenses needed for street works. The powers can also help with supporting access to run new fibre via Openreach’s (BT) existing cable ducts and poles (PIA), which is something UKFN have indicated they may harness.

NOTE: Residential customers currently pay from £25.99 per month on a 24-month term for a 150Mbps package with free installation, which rises to £54.99 for their 900Mbps plan. But the website appears to suggest this may be exc. VAT (residential services should be inc. VAT).

The operator is predominantly self-funded, albeit with some investment also being obtained via Digital Enterprise Grants, and they hold an ambition to potentially harness some of the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) grants in the future (most likely as part of their plans for some rural builds, further down the line). But it appears as if their network is predominantly overhead (poles), which tends to rub some people up the wrong way.

Extract from the Code Powers Application

The Applicant [UKFN] sells broadband and VOIP services; its packages offer broadband speeds starting at 150mbps up to 900Mbps for all customers. Furthermore, UK Fibre Networks offers its full-fibre services via overhead cables, rather than the typical underground cables, which results in less disruption to customers and less disruption for the public. The speeds offered are much faster than average speeds today and much better than the variable speeds experienced on copper lines that many other providers offer. In contrast to its fibre competitors, UK Fibre Networks aims to deliver its wireless services within – ten (10) days of an accepted order.

The Applicant does not currently own any ducting, nor does it currently undertake any civil works. Currently, it leases backhaul services from Tier 1 carriers under wholesale contracts. In the future, it may expand its network by using Openreach’s PIA to install its own ducting and poles, whether on private land or public highway btu currently overhead cables are the default installation position.

The Applicant has applied for Code Powers because experience shows that without Code Powers, they will have to pay extortionate associated costs to freeholders, should any further wayleave agreements need to be entered into. Moreover, there may be unreasonable terms proposed by any freeholders, such as unfair termination rights, if Code Powers were not granted.

After a bit of digging, we discovered a local news article on York Mix (not a source we’d pick up on) from earlier this year, which quotes UKFN’s Director, Pete Evans, as stating that the “plan” is to “roll out superfast broadband to all 8,000 premises within the city walls during 2024″. We assume he means gigabit broadband, since “superfast” (usually meaning 30Mbps+) hasn’t been a performance target on new network builds for a while.

The network expansion began in the Gillygate area of York during January 2024 (Phase 1) – including High Petergate, Bootham, Marygate, Lord Mayor’s Walk and Claremont Terrace – and should now be starting to expand into the Micklegate area (Phase 2), with Walmgate (Phase 3) getting underway in July and Goodramgate / Stonebow (Phase 4) following in September or late 2024.

Recent Posts