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Welsh Wireless Broadband ISP Xwavia Secures £1.2m Finance Wales Loan

Friday, May 9th, 2014 (3:11 pm) - Score 1,111

Powys-based wireless broadband ISP eXwavia Xwavia has, following last month’s report by ISPreview.co.uk (here), confirmed that they’ve secured an investment of £1.2 million from Finance Wales to help make faster Internet connectivity available to more rural parts of Wales in the United Kingdom. The first areas to benefit will be in Conwy.

Finance Wales typically provides short-term loan finance from the Wales Capital Growth Fund, which can be used to help Welsh SMEs “tender for larger contracts or increase purchasing power“. Xwavia intends to use this new investment to expand its HQ in Welshpool with new jobs, improve its infrastructure, expand their network capacity and boost service speeds (at present their fastest “Home” package is 20Mbps).

As part of this investment Xwavia said that it will soon launch the first phase of a new network in Conwy (North Wales), which would also help to create more jobs at its site in Riverside Business Park. It’s worth pointing out that parts of Conwy are already expected to be covered by the state aid supported Superfast Cymru project with BT (here).

Xwavia’s update suggests that the reason for their roll-out in this new area is, oddly, because it will be one of the last places to benefit from the Government’s scheme, which hopefully doesn’t mean that they’re going to waste money deploying in areas that are already destined to be covered (i.e. duplication of public investment). A better bet would be to focus on the excluded areas but the announcement lacks detail about precisely where Xwavia intends to go.

Interestingly the update reveals that Xwavia also intends to make use of the Welsh Government‘s revised Access Broadband Cymru (ABC) scheme, which provides grants of up to £1,000 per premise in areas which have “slow broadband connections” (i.e. sub-2Mbps). The ABC setup replaced the almost identical Broadband Support Scheme earlier this year but has faced concern over its eligibility criteria, which could prevent some legitimate applicants from applying (here).

Mike Brown, CEO of Xwavia, said:

We are delighted to secure this investment from Finance Wales, which will allow us to increase the speed and reach of our network. Over the next three years, we will use this additional capital to extend our network across Wales to provide much-needed access to superfast broadband.

Currently, many residents and business owners do not have access high speed broadband and this is negatively effecting the Welsh economy. We are therefore extending our service to ensure that individuals and businesses are provided with access to the high-quality broadband services they need and deserve.

Superfast broadband is a necessity which allows businesses to compete more effectively. It provides an opportunity to improve financial management, marketing efforts, human resources and customer relationships, and the extension of our network will make this possible for more businesses in Wales than ever before.”

Jerry Mobbs, Deputy Portfolio Manager at Finance Wales, added:

Xwavia has made some impressive achievements since it was established and now has even more ambitious plans to increase the availability of superfast broadband throughout Wales. This could play a significant role in building the Welsh economy in future, opening up a wealth of new local and global opportunities for both citizens and businesses. Welsh businesses have the potential to improve their competitiveness, access new markets and suppliers, for instance.

Xwavia’s new management team has the vision and experience to implement these plans, further strengthening its market position and our investment will also enable them to recruit more staff to underpin their expansion.”

Understandably the decision by Finance Wales to award such a big investment to Xwavia hasn’t been without its critics. Rival wireless provider Airband told ISPreview.co.uk last month that the decision was “outrageous” because “[we have] provided services in the same area for the past two years and have managed our financial affairs well with no need for handouts“.

A recent Q&A session of the Welsh Assembly also revealed that Xwavia has already received a separate “Make Safe” grant worth £143,000 and a loan to the value of £162,000. Suffice to say that the best way for Xwavia to prove their critics wrong will be to build the new network while also revealing more details about the roll-out plan, timescales and service improvements as soon as possible.

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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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21 Responses
  1. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    You can bet your sweet bippy that BT will soon decide Conwy is due its upgrade… Get in there xwavia and make it rock. Competition is king and wifi has tons better upload than old copper phone lines.

  2. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    @Chris
    To suggest that wifi is “tons better than old copper” is a curious statement to make, presumably you’re aware of the limitations of wifi, in particular the major speed degradation of even relativeely short distances etc? Let alone problems with interference given it uses very congested and unlicensed spectrum?

    @MarkJ
    On a more general point, this company appears to require constant injections of our tax monies in order to function. It appears to have received large sums in the form of vouchers, as well as a whole series of substantial grants, all in a short space of time. Presumably the Welsh Assembly has had state aid approval from the European Commission for all of this? If not it will have to pay it all back if a complaint from Airband is upheld.

    1. To be fair to Chris, she did not say that wifi is “tons better than old copper”. She said that “wifi has tons better upload than old copper phone lines” which is generally true with a Fixed Wireless Access operator. Also, whilst interference might indeed be an issue in large urban areas, it tends to be much less of an issue in rural areas. Finally, it is very straightforward to get decent speeds over long distances with modern kit (long when compared to the fall off in speed with adsl). We have customers on our network that are around 10km away from the node they feed off, for example.

    2. Avatar No Clue says:

      I have no idea what New_Londoner is on about either.

      There are wireless companies now that offer 10+Mb upload speeds, some actually are now doing symmetrical services (same speed up and down) there are even wireless providers now that offer upto 300Mb down packages.

      Distance is not a problem either there are 2 companies whos names escape me for the moment which i know of one that covers a large part of kent and another covering a large part of the midlands. You do not even strictly need a 100% clear line of sight anymore although if it is not it affects performance.

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @Wirelesspacman
      If she’d mentioned fixed wireless I may have been sympathetic to her point, however she said wifi and I really thing your average wifi router would fall well short performance-wise after less than 100m.

      More generally, this company seems to keep needing state aid of one form or another to keep going, and seems to keep getting it. No wonder its direct competitors are unhappy.

    4. Avatar No Clue says:

      “If she’d mentioned fixed wireless I may have been sympathetic to her point…”

      She mentioned the specific company the article concerns, you just wanted to troll her like you do in every item.

    5. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @No Clue
      There is a certain irony in seeing references to trolling from you! 😉

      Back on topic, anything you want to say about the use of state aid to prop up an apparently failing company at the expense of its competitors? I’d have thought we’d be in agreement on that for a change.

    6. Avatar No Clue says:

      Still no idea what you are babbling on about this is a loan to the company, you do know what a loan is don’t you?

    7. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @No Clue
      Sadly for you, I have actually read the article right the way through from start to finish before commenting, something I suggest you try from time to time.

      The story refers to four separate lots of our tax monies going to this company

      1) an “investment” from Finance Wales of £1.2 million – despite the heading, it is unclear from the text whether this is a loan or not as you would not normally refer to a loan as an investment
      2) A “make safe” grant of £143,000
      3) A loan of £162,000

      All of which is for a company also being funded by yet more of our tax money from (4) Access Broadband Cymru grants which form it’s income! If I ran one of the competitors I’d want to know what is going on and whether normal state aid rules are being applied here.

      So we poor taxpayers have stumped one loan, a lot of grants and one very large “investment” so far, does that make it clear enough for you? Suggest next time you actually read the story first before trolling.

    8. Avatar No Clue says:

      “@No Clue
      Sadly for you, I have actually read the article right the way through from start to finish before commenting, something I suggest you try from time to time.”

      Oh really.

      “1) an “investment” from Finance Wales of £1.2 million – despite the heading, it is unclear from the text whether this is a loan or not as you would not normally refer to a loan as an investment”

      http://www.financewales.co.uk/about-us.aspx
      They are a loan and finance organisation

      DOH!

    9. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @No Clue
      Luckily I read things, just like I suggested you try sometime. If your “research” had taken you to the story on Walesonline at

      http://www.walesonline.co.uk/business/business-news/broadband-provider-xwavia-boosted-12m-7110825

      You would have discovered that”Finance Wales’s investment is a combination of debt AND EQUITY”! So it’s not just a loan, as I suggested previously.

      Like you said, DOH!

    10. Avatar No Clue says:

      1 month on and the author of this story and the person that runs this site must also be wrong using your failed logic also then…..
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/06/uk-government-unveils-bidders-10m-broadband-innovation-fund.html#comment-144561

  3. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    Xwavia are providing a service now, today. Not like BT who will have people wait even longer, months even years or never, for a usable connection.

    This is a Welsh Government decision to help, not the waste of Tax Monies.

    BT has trouble getting the message if you are not prepared to do it some body else will, their loss.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      However the companies like Airband that are not getting this subsidy to run their businesses must be pretty unhappy. I know I would be in similar circumstances.

    2. Avatar No Clue says:

      You mean much in the same way Talk Talk, Sky, Virgin and basically every provider in the country are unhappy BT have had the most funding of ANY big or small provider in the UK?

    3. Avatar Unknown101 says:

      No clue – that’s because BT were the only ones to put their neck on the line and apply for the BDUK money. Sky Talk Talk and any other big or small company were able to apply. Yes it takes longer to run fibre to places than wireless options but that’s just how it is – can’t please everyone all in one go.

    4. Avatar No Clue says:

      “Sky Talk Talk and any other big or small company were able to apply”

      No different to the loan these people have had then.

  4. Avatar Netserve says:

    Shame no one from Finance Wales bothered to do their research into Xwavia’s business plan for Conwy. If they’d bothered to walk round they area they’d have seen our radio’s dotted all over Conwy Morfa and down the Conwy Valley.

    We’ve had customers on Conwy Morfa getting 75Mbit+ services for 2 years!

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Testmy.net are pretty useless for broadband speed testing, scored 5Mbps on my old 15Mbps+ line because they default to a USA server and there’s nothing for the UK. Best server option is Amsterdam.

  5. Avatar Conwy Colin says:

    ah I see. What would be the best site for testing/reviewing within Wales? I see a lot of claims everywhere but not a lot in the way of supporting evidence. I’ve been through 4 different providers so far and none have been able to deliver on their promises. I don’t want to sign up to yet another false prophet!

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