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ISP Gigaclear Win Contract to Deploy FTTP in Northmoor with RCBF Money

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 (7:56 am) - Score 605

Fibre optic broadband ISP Gigaclear has successfully picked up the RCBF supported contract to build, implement and operate a 1000Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based ultrafast broadband network in the Parish of Northmoor (West Oxfordshire, England).

The development is also significant for being one of the very first non-BT projects to secure a slice of funding through DEFRA’s £20 million Rural Community Broadband Fund, which is designed to help remote rural communities in the last 5-10% of the UK.

Until now most other non-BT orientated RCBF projects have struggled to secure funding due to a lack of coverage data from councils for the primary national BT / BDUK roll-out of superfast broadband, which meant state aid rules that prohibit overbuilding of an existing NGA network could not be satisfied.

Readers might recall that the Northmoor, Moreton and Bablockhythe Community Broadband Project had its requested RCBF bid of £200,287 approved at the very end of last year (this is to be matched by the schemes backers), although at the time no supplier had been chosen. The area has already been de-scoped from the BT / Oxfordshire County Council project (Broadband Delivery UK).

Graham Shelton, Chair of the Parish Council, said:

Better broadband was clearly a priority in such a rural location. We spoke to Oxfordshire County Council and were informed from the start that, because of its location, the Parish would be likely to fall outside the area covered by the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) subsidy. That freed us to pursue other options. Our District Council helped us finalise our RCBF bid, and find a suitable provider through an independent procurement process – ensuring the community obtained a socially-inclusive service and good value for money.

We were aware of Gigaclear’s work elsewhere, so were delighted they won on the merit of their application. The network will ensure that everyone can obtain equally superfast broadband and that it will be available to all properties in the Parish – including a number of caravans. Better broadband will make a big difference in this community.”

The original project called for broadband download speeds of 24Mbps+ to reach 100% of premises (around 500 homes and businesses / 1,115 people) within its footprint by 2015, although those in Northmoor now look set to receive a significantly faster service than planned. Work to build the new network is expected to begin by this summer and should complete by around September 2014.

Some altnet ISPs might ask, why choose Gigaclear when other RCBF projects have rejected smaller providers in favour of a BT-based approach (BT holds all the cards in terms of coverage data)? In this case there are likely to be three answers, 1) Gigaclear are already established in nearby areas (example), 2) the area has already been de-scoped from BDUK and 3) Gigaclear adopt a commercial focus and have a strong investment behind them. Other schemes often have to spend a great deal of time campaigning to build the same financial support.

Customers of the service can expect to pay from £37 per month for a symmetric 50Mbps package that comes with a static IP address, unlimited usage, parental controls and a gigabit hub (plus a £100 installation fee). The faster packages will of course cost even more.

It’s also worth mentioning that this particular scheme will add a symmetric 2Mbps package at £23 per month for budget users (note: customers aren’t required to pay expensive copper line rental with true fibre optic services). But they will still need a VoIP package if they want unlimited calls to UK landlines (costs from an extra £6 per month through Gigaclear and Vonage).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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2 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew Williams

    This is nice to hear glad to hear we are moving forward in addressing the final 5% this is what is likely needed to happen.

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