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Gigaclear Target 50000 UK Rural Homes for 1Gbps FTTP Broadband by 2015

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 (9:06 am) - Score 1,221

Rural-focused fibre optic (FTTP) broadband ISP Gigaclear has secured private investment worth £7.75 million to help fund the next phase of its growth and a roll-out of 1000Mbps (Megabits per second) capable Internet access into more areas, which could reach 15,000 premises by the end of 2015 and go much further in the future.

The new growth funding has apparently been secured from both new and existing investors. Some £2.75m was raised in April 2014 via an Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), with another £5m of the total coming from Neil Woodford’s new CF Woodford Equity Income Fund (i.e. Gigaclears first institutional investor). Neil Woodford has also been in the news recently due to concerns over investment collusion in the Daisy Group (here).

At present Gigaclear owns and operates 8 rural fibre optic networks across Oxfordshire and Rutland in England, with another 400 communities said to be demanding their help (most of these have been left neglected by BT with very slow sub-2Mbps connectivity). But it’s hard to scale-up in order to meet such demand and that’s where the new funding could prove crucial.

Under the current plan Gigaclear aims to operate 25 networks by the end of 2014 (total coverage of around 10,000 rural homes) and 6 of those are already being built in Kent and Oxfordshire, with another batch anticipated to follow in Peterborough and Northamptonshire.

Matthew Hare, CEO of Gigaclear, said:

I am delighted by the continued strong support shown by our shareholders and by the faith our new private and institutional investors have placed in us. The demand for better broadband from homes and businesses in rural communities continues to rise. With every network we build, Gigaclear is able to show beyond doubt that we can build, operate and monitise new FTTP networks that deliver real returns for their users and for our shareholders.

With fresh funding secured, we can now forge ahead with our plans to bring reliable, ultrafast and very cost effective broadband to the underserved and often forgotten rural communities across Britain.”

But Gigaclear’s aspiration is already to go much further and there are hopes of being able to reach an impressive figure of 50,000 premises by the end of 2015, which is certain to cost considerably more than currently tabled (some estimates put the figure at around £100m).

However, achieving a figure of 50,000 in such a short space of time has already proven difficult for even some of the better funded and more established fibre optic developers to achieve, with most of those also being in urban areas where it’s usually a lot quicker to reach larger numbers of premises.

Never the less we must applaud the excellent efforts Gigaclear are making and their move into the big league shows that a flexible demand-led approach in isolated rural areas really is starting to pay off for some operators, while BT often still struggles to deliver even basic ADSL Max connectivity into many of the same areas.

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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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