Macquarie’s Kcom to get UK-wide licence from Ofcom

Macquarie’s Kcom to get UK-wide licence from Ofcom

KCOM HQ and phone boxes.jpg

Kcom, the former Kingston Communications, now owned by Macquarie, is making a second attempt to expand UK-wide from its base in Hull.

The company has applied to Ofcom, the UK regulator, to extend its licence to cover the whole country. Ofcom is asking for comments by 27 April.

“Ofcom is proposing to modify the terms on which the Electronic Communications Code … applies to Kcom Group Limited,” said Ofcom this morning. It seems unlikely that Ofcom will turn down the request.

Kcom (pictured, via Google Streetview) is the incumbent phone company in and around the East Yorkshire city of Hull, with a history dating back more than a century, when it was a department of the city council. It has the same incumbent status in the Hull region as BT in the rest of the UK.

Most city-owned phone companies were nationalised in the early 20th century and were transferred to what was then the Post Office, now BT, but the Hull Corporation telephone department remained independent.

It was privatised in 1999, at the height of the dotcom boom, but the city held on to 44.9%. The council sold the remaining stake in 2007 and four years ago Macquarie bought the whole company for £627 million.

This is the second attempt by what is now Kcom to go nationwide. Back in the 1990s it created Torch Telecom as a subsidiary to run fibre networks in a number of cities, initially in Yorkshire, but it expanded to other parts of the UK and also bought a satellite service.

Kcom is giving no details of its plans for UK-wide services, but an Ofcom licence would give Macquarie a platform to offer services across the country in competition with not only BT but also Vodafone, Colt and other operations.

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