Up in Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, broadband works a little differently. There’s no BT, there’s no Sky, there’s no Virgin Media… instead, there’s KCOM.
The city of Kingston upon Hull has an entirely independent telecoms network that isn't touched by BT at all - it's just got the one fixed line provider serving the city and its surrounding towns and villages. Sadly, if you live in Hull, you don't have many broadband choices.
Why is Hull broadband different?
Once upon a time, UK phone companies were much smaller and more scattered around the country. The majority of them were gradually absorbed into the Post Office Telephone Group - which later became BT. The network in Kingston upon Hull and its surrounding area, however, resisted, and has remained as a separate company to this day. What began as the Hull Corporation in 1902 is now known as KCOM.
These days, things are changing a little. KCOM can lease out its network to other providers through LLU (local loop unbundling) - though very few are renting - and there are other emerging providers, including ones that offer wireless broadband.
KCOM, also known as KC or Kingston Communications or Karoo, is the only fixed line network that covers most of the HU postcode. That includes areas like Hull, Beverley, Cottingham, Hessle, Willerby, and more.
You may recognise its cream-coloured phone boxes - a bit different from the classic cherry red ones in the rest of England.
From KCOM, you can get broadband, home phone, and mobile deals (on O2's network), and TV is on its way soon. On the plus side, its broadband is fast: 'Lightstream' packages - i.e. fibre optic - can reach up to speeds of 250Mb. However, fibre isn't available everywhere, and packages are more expensive than those in the rest of the country - especially as they have rather restrictive download limits.
Other broadband in Hull that isn't KCOM
Your other options for broadband in Hull come mostly from wireless providers. They include:
- Satellite broadband - Satellite broadband is available pretty much everywhere in the UK, and is great for rural areas that get slow speeds from fixed lines. Its main downfall, however, is high latency - online gamers may struggle. Read more about satellite broadband.
- 4G mobile broadband - This can come either from mobile providers that offer mobile broadband packages, or wireless providers that piggyback on those networks. See our guide to mobile broadband for more.