Thousands of homes could soon be upgraded to full-fibre broadband from a new company you’re unlikely to have heard of. Internet supplier Freedom Fibre has announced plans to bring its gigabit-capable broadband to 100,000 people in the UK. To begin, most of these premises will be located across the North West, spanning Manchester and Cheshire, to name a few locations.
Freedom Fibre was established last year by CEO Neil Mcarthur, who has previously held senior roles at TalkTalk. And unlike some of the other newly-minuted full-fibre broadband firms, like WeFibre, WightFibre, Gigaclear, and CommunityFibre, it seems Freedom Fibre has no plans to interact directly with customers.
Instead, Freedom Fibre will install the next-generation infrastructure and then offer other more-established brands the opportunity to use the cabling to deliver faster speeds to their customers. And one company that plans to leverage the new Freedom Fibre network to 100,000 homes is TalkTalk.
The partnership was announced by Freedom Fibre in its company blog. It stated: “The new venture plans to build a state of the art, pure fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) network to deliver broadband speeds of 1 Gigabit (1000 Mbps) direct to tens of thousands of homes and businesses initially in the North West, offering customers better quality and value.
“TalkTalk and Freedom Fibre share a joint ambition to connect as many customers and businesses as possible to TalkTalk’s Future Fibre product across the next 5 years and beyond and we firmly believe FULL Fibre should be a right and NOT a privilege, accessible to all. As such we are embarking on a highly collaborative joint business plan together.”
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As it stands, TalkTalk uses Openreach’s infrastructure to deliver broadband nationwide. Openreach, which is owned by BT, is unmatched when it comes to coverage across the UK, however, when it comes to speed – it’s increasingly falling behind rivals. Smaller start-ups, like Hyperoptic and Gigaclear, have been able to claw away market-share by offering faster speeds to people who never want to see the buffering symbol again, in limited areas. Meanwhile, Virgin Media has been rapidly expanding its own gigabit-capable broadband footprint.
Virgin Media hopes to reach a total of 16 million homes wired-up with its next-generation fibre broadband by the end of this year. In that same period, Openreach will have some 4.5 million premises connected to gigabit-capable broadband. As a result, it’s not that surprising that some of the biggest brands that rely on Openreach are looking elsewhere. With TalkTalk purportedly in advanced talks to move some of its customers over to the Freedom Fibre infrastructure to boost speeds, internet-obsessed blog ISPreview has also reported that Sky is looking to ditch Openreach in favour of Virgin Media’s network in the coming months.
If all of this means more people will be able to access speedier broadband, we’re all for it.
Last year, researchers concluded that the UK’s tardiness to upgrade ageing copper cables to full-fibre had resulted in the average home broadband connection in the UK taking twice as long to download a movie compared to the average home in western Europe. Overall, Britain plunged 13 places in the annual study on broadband speeds across 221 countries and territories worldwide.
The UK now ranks 47th when it comes to the fastest broadband speeds, despite being the sixth strongest economy on the planet. Yikes.
The report, which was published in September last year, used the results of 577 million broadband speed tests worldwide to complete its ranking. The results saw the UK’s average broadband speed rank as the eighth slowest in western Europe, with home-workers and boxset bingers in 21 other countries, including Spain, Germany and France, enjoying faster average speeds.
While in the UK it takes 18 minutes on average to download a 5GB film to watch at home, Spanish streamers only have to wait 12 minutes, while those in Switzerland only have six minutes to kill before the opening credits roll.
According to Ofcom, a little over 10 percent of UK homes have access to gigabit-capable full-fibre broadband, compared with well over 80 percent in a number of other developed countries.
Most broadband delivered over ageing copper connections range between 24Mbps to 80Mbps and can be negatively impacted by the weather – and large numbers of people in your neighbourhood logging on at the same time. Meanwhile, full-fibre has much greater bandwidth – so shouldn’t see any noticeable speed drops even when demand is high. Not only that, but it’s not impacted by a stormy night and can hit top speeds of well over 1,000Mbps.
It also boasts improved upload speeds, which means you’ll be able to upload videos to Instagram, back up important files on your smartphone or PC, and collaborate on documents and make video calls without any stutters too.