Also in this roundup: ROKiT Cities launches "help your neighbor" network; TIM reports fiber progress; CityFibre invests in Swindon; SpaceX raises $1.9 billion.
New data from UK industry regulator Ofcom shows that Plusnet is edging out its broadband competitors when it comes to customer satisfaction. Virgin Media, meanwhile, received low marks for having the longest wait times for support calls (4 minutes 26 seconds on average). Virgin Media customers were also less likely than average to be satisfied with the handling of their complaints, with TalkTalk customers coming in as least satisfied overall. Ofcom's data shows that, all in all, 85% of customers are still satisfied with their broadband service. However, it is worth noting this data pre-dates COVID-19 as it was gathered in January 2020 – an entirely different era.
Italy's largest operator, TIM, released numbers this week showing that 65% of rural areas can now access ultra-broadband, or speeds up to 200 Mbit/s. The Telecom Italia-owned company said that in the past five months it has provided fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) coverage for over 2,000 municipalities in rural areas, with a build of 11,000 roadside cabinets. TIM currently covers 86% of the country with its optical fiber network and it aims to get to 90% by the end of the year, extending their build to 15,000 cabinets.
UK alternative fiber network CityFibre announced that it's investing £40 million ($53 million) in Swindon to cover "nearly every home and business" with high-speed broadband. In a statement the company said that "detailed planning is already underway as CityFibre designs a network capable of serving Swindon's current and future demands." Work is due to commence in October. Competitor to CityFibre, BT's Openreach also announced progress on its plans to connect the entire UK, with over 1,200 Merthyr Tydfil now able to access speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s.
ROKiT Cities, a division of the ROKiT Group that brings wide area mesh networking Wi-Fi XL services to communities, announced its first fully functioning "WiFi City" in Austin. The WiFi City will serve Austin's Community First! Village, which provides affordable, permanent housing for people emerging from "chronic homelessness." In an announcement, ROKiT Cities said that the deployment "allows local residents to connect to fast and reliable WiFi, and make cellular-free calls and texts wherever they are in the 51-acre community." ROKiT will also provide each resident in the village with one of its smartphones.
This week Elon Musk's SpaceX raised $1.9 billion in a new round of funding. One of the projects to benefit from that is Starlink, its satellite broadband project. The company further announced that it added 58 low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to the Starlink constellation in the month of August, bringing the total to over 650. Authorities have cleared the way for SpaceX to launch more than 12,000 satellites as part of its Starlink constellation. Recent speed tests that emerged on Reddit from beta users showed that Starlink will meet the FCC's standard for what qualifies as broadband, though it's unclear that the service will truly be able to compete with existing ISPs.
Charter has sparked RDOF work in all 24 states where it won bids. The cable op booked about $19 million in RDOF revenues in Q1, and expects to have about $9 million per month come in over the next ten years.
Launch of 2-Gig and 5-Gig FTTP tiers in 70-plus markets puts more pressure on cable ops to enhance their existing DOCSIS 3.1 network or accelerate their upgrade activity centered on the new DOCSIS 4.0 specs.