KCOM news

Is KCOM a monopoly in Hull and East Yorkshire?


Why doesn’t BT or any other major company such as Virgin or TalkTalk provide phone lines or broadband in Hull and East Yorkshire?

Well, it’s partly due to history and it’s partly because of economics. And that’s only part of the picture.

When Hull City Council founded KCOM back in 1904, as Hull Telephone Department, it was one of several local authorities across the country granted a licence to run its own phone network.

Gradually, over time other authorities gave up control of their networks to the Post Office which wanted to create a single national service, but Hull City Council decided to keep its network and continue to go it alone.

While the Post Office network eventually became BT, Hull’s network, like the city itself, remained fiercely independent. That’s why today Hull has its own distinct cream phone boxes in contrast to the red ones you’ll find elsewhere.

Hull City Council partially floated KCOM on the stock exchange in 1999 and sold its final stake in the company in 2007 meaning we now independently own the infrastructure, phone lines and, more recently, the broadband fibre that connects East Yorkshire.

But this doesn’t stop other phone and broadband companies from coming to the area. We’re legally required by Ofcom to allow other companies to use our infrastructure.

Our wholesale line rental prices are similar to BT’s which means that it wouldn't cost other providers more to use our lines than it does for them to use BT's lines elsewhere in the country.

So why don’t other companies invest in Hull?

Other providers would have to factor in extra costs such as installing their own equipment in our exchanges and employing engineers. A review by Ofcom found that because of the relatively small size of the area other providers believe the investment wouldn’t be worth their while.

But there is broadband choice in Hull. Some independent providers are installing their fibre networks to homes in the city while there others providing wireless broadband across East Yorkshire.

Some people argue that the lack of large broadband providers in the area has led to a lack of investment. All the evidence points to the contrary.

KCOM completed the rollout of its £85m full fibre network in 2019, making Hull and East Yorkshire one of the fastest broadband regions in the world.

Lightstream broadband is now available to more than 200,000 properties across Hull and East Yorkshire, giving homes and businesses access to gigafast speeds.

While 100 per cent of KCOM’s network is covered by full fibre broadband, only eight per cent of the rest of the UK is covered.

Our Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) technology delivers broadband right to your router, meaning it doesn’t have to make the last leg of its journey on old copper wiring like with other providers’ Fibre To the Cabinet (FTTC) services.

And our future-proofed technology provides the best online experience, making life easier for people using the internet at home and giving our businesses a distinct competitive advantage over those in the rest of the UK.

So, while some people may continue to ask why the UK’s largest broadband providers don’t invest in offering services in Hull, our efforts remain focussed on delivering Hull and East Yorkshire the world-beating service it deserves.

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