Sky recently began exploratory conversations with several wholesale carriers to accelerate and enhance its transition to high-speed, full-fiber connectivity around the country, as the operator transitions from its legacy of satellite connectivity.
Currently, incumbent BT's network infrastructure division Openreach dominates the wholesale market. But consumer and operator complaints about lack of speed; slowness to adopt and deploy fiber; an ongoing reliance on coax and VDSL; a preference for Gfast over fiber in scenarios where fiber is clearly the superior option, and lack of competition -- at least until recently -- have encouraged new wholesalers, different approaches to the market and a dramatic uptick in fiber investment and deployment across the United Kingdom.
Both CityFibre and Gigaclear are committed to deploying fiber-optic cabling to millions of British households and SMBs. Wholesale "altnets," as they are called in Britain, seek commercial providers that sell broadband and related services to consumers, small and midsize businesses, enterprises and vertical markets such as government and healthcare.
There is, after all, a lot of demand -- but not a lot of available fiber. Less than 2% of UK subscribers use fiber, according to a February 2019 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
Sky, Britain's second largest broadband provider, is interested in deals, wrote Sky UK Chief Executive Stephen van Rooyen in a letter to top executives at various altnets, The Telegraph reported, stating it had seen this missive.
"More can be done to help increase investment and bring ultrafast broadband to more homes, more quickly," van Rooyen said, according to the newspaper. "[Sky can] play a significant role in encouraging investment in new networks [by stimulating consumer demand]."
For example, Sky plans to migrate pay-TV subscribers to high-definition IP video, further driving residential customers' need for high-speed, highly reliable broadband, he noted.
Sky -- which Comcast acquired for $39 billion last September -- already partnered with Openreach, and will use the market-leader's existing high-speed infrastructure. Adding one or more alternative sources gives Sky leverage, of course, and potentially extends its reach to markets under- or unserved by Openreach. The service provider also sent letters to FibreNation (an infrastructure venture by TalkTalk) and wholesaler Hyperoptic, among others, The Telegraph reported. Other potential wholesale partners include Gigaclear, EUNetwork, Linkt, M247, Onecom, Fuel Broadband and POP Telecom.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.