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Is KCOM a monopoly in Hull and East Yorkshire?

Written by KCOM Support on 23/03/2022. Posted in General.

It's a question we get asked a lot.

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.

Whilst 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 doesn'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, larger providers believe the investment wouldn't be worth their while.

But there is broadband choice in Hull and the surrounding area. Some independent providers have already installed their fibre networks to homes in Hull, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.

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's investing £100 million in our network expansion to bring full fibre broadband to more towns and villages, improving lives of residents and businesses across East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. Since 2020 we have connected more than 20 new communities across our region, passing more than 250,000 properties with our full fibre network.

Our award-winning network can now be found across East Yorkshire from Bridlington to Pocklington and Goole to Driffield, Market Weighton, Melbourne and Howden. In North Lincolnshire our network is creating a world of online opportunities for homes and businesses in towns and villages such as Crowle, Haxey, Epworth, Messingham, Goxhill, Barton, Brigg and Barrow.

We started rolling out our full fibre network years before anyone else, which has put us well ahead of the competition. Our future-proof technology has laid the foundations for our region's booming tech and digital sectors, allowing local businesses to compete on a truly global level and creating an extra £496m for the local economy between 2012 and 2018, according to independent research. It now adds an estimated £127m in extra value to the Hull and East Yorkshire economy every year.

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 giving Hull and East Yorkshire the world-beating service it deserves.

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