Sky has trialled its own cable installations, the company has confirmed, experimenting with the possibility of bypassing BT in the UK and operating its own broadband network over which it would have full control. Another possibility – though only rumored at this stage – is using a huge expansion of The Cloud, a UK WiFi hotspot service, Electricpig reports, to bring high-speed communal wireless internet access directly to subscribers’ homes.
In the UK, government-run turned private telecoms company British Telecom runs the so-called “last mile” of telephone networks. This final connection between the local exchange and users’ homes are what can cause a bottleneck for other DSL broadband providers, like Sky: if they want to do any work on new connections or maintenance, they must contract it out to BT’s engineers rather than do it themselves.
Installing a new cable network – or building out a huge wireless system – would obviously involve considerable investment on Sky’s part, but the upshot would be a system entirely within the company’s control. That could have long-term financial impact, as well as reduce customer frustration when Sky service is interrupted and the company has to look both to its network and that of BT in order to narrow down the fault.
Actually doing that would demand Sky partially replicating or replacing the 5,000 or so BT exchanges, which makes its hotspot wireless roll-out look simple in comparison. According to reports, both are still being tested, though there’s no indication when, exactly, a public launch might take place.