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

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 (9:06 am) - Score 1,167
gigaclear uk

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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39 Responses
  1. Avatar X66yh

    FT article here
    (free registration required allowing u to read a limited number of items/month free)

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e4e63bbc-fd4a-11e3-96a9-00144feab7de.html#axzz36Er44Gf9

  2. Avatar Chris Conder

    Well done Gigaclear, this is where the digital switchover fund money should have gone to. They go the extra mile instead of wasting taxpayers money on clapped out old copper phone lines.

    • Avatar DTMark

      .. or another option, which would be to break up BT, split out Openreach, recapitalise it with tax-payer’s money with the tax-payer taking a substantial share, and then work with network builders like Gigaclear to supply a consolidation platform for ISP services delivered over both networks. This was one of a number of available options though this one would have required a “big stick approach”.

      Well I never – a commercial rollout in areas where there is no commercial case. Who would have thought it.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Nationalisation is not something the government is keen on.

    • Avatar DTMark

      (Cough) banks…

      OK then. Don’t recapitalise it with tax-payer’s money, but instead, with private investment.

      What makes me giggle most is the oft-quoted line “But there was never the money for FTTP” missing the necessary follow-on line “when doing it this way with the taxpayer bunging cash to BT” which when correctly added, then highlights the message that the approach was faulty.

    • Avatar GNewton

      I remember there were some forum posters here who seriously believed the government propaganda that every Pound of taxpayer’s money invested in FTTC would yield a twenty-fold ROI to the government in just a few years. Assuming FTTP is 3 times more expensive that would still mean 6 to 7 times more compared to the originally invested 1 Pound. The goverment could therefore involve loads of private investors, even if the latter only had 50% share, it would still more than double or triple their investments in a few years.

      But alas, ‘The UK Broadband Impact Study’ was just a pipe dream.

      Even so, it is remarkable to see some companies actually invest in future proof technology. Well done GigaClear!

    • That ROI is to the economy as a whole, not to those who build the network unless they are the government.

  3. Avatar X66yh

    @DTMark
    I live next to one such village targeted
    The amount of effort that is being put in to market GC to the local population by individuals, by CG, in local newsletters, on banners, on notice boards, in open days, by the local committee etc etc is very significant.
    Endless personal mailshots being sent round explaining this and that and VOIP etc.

    All know that just to get even to the 30% required they need a real hard almost in your face marketing push. They almost have to ‘create’ a commercial roll out rather than there being one there already.

    While on forums and portals like this full of the already converted and tech saavy we tend to think everyone would want this sort of thing ‘now’- the reality on the ground is that most people don’t really give a monkey’s.

    • Avatar dragoneast

      We appreciate. But children of all ages still believe in fairy tales.

    • Avatar fastman2

      most villages will also want ISP choice and and also no disruption in their village —

    • Avatar DTMark

      Apathy is the name of the game and hard to overcome.

      I’ll bet that if you did a survey of those homes which had had all the leaflets, etc, and asked them “Do you feel well informed?” the answer from many would be “No”.

      Same as any workplace questionnaire – “I just don’t get the information” can often mean “I just don’t read the information”.

      There is only so much you can do to inform people.

    • ‘and also no disruption in their village’

      Priceless 🙂

    • Answering more completely there’s nothing stopping BT Retail or any other operator from signing up to the Fluidata Service Exchange Platform and using the Gigaclear network.

      Well, beyond that last time BTR tried to not use BT Wholesale their boss left rather quickly afterwards 🙂

    • Avatar No Clue

      If BT upgraded their network as often as they do some of their bosses (every few years) there would be no issue. Then again maybe that is the issues millions in one persons pocket rather than on an outdated network.

    • Avatar DTMark

      It’s a case of priorities.

      Pensions first, then line rental and phone services.

      Broadband is way down the list. BT can rely on Virgin Media’s superior network to distribute BT Sport for them in the meantime 😉

      Maintaining the infra monopoly is absolutely key.

  4. Avatar fastman2

    villages also need to physically check to see if they are covered under BDUK programmes

    • I agree wholeheartedly.

      If they do this they can reach out to their council and ensure that they will have something comparable to what Gigaclear are offering delivered for their taxes rather than an ‘expedient’ solution which may or may not be good enough for now and will certainly require upgrade in the future.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Our village is allegedly to be covered by BDUK. Well, some of it. There are no plans for the other part of it.

      At some point in 2015, the lower half of the village may receive an upgrade. “Subject to survey”. Why subject to survey? Still?

      Asked what technology and how everyone will be guaranteed a minimum of 2Mbps.

      All “commercially confidential”.

      My conclusion is that the roll out map effectively enables BT to put a stick in the proverbial sand and ward off any other solution until 2017.

      If only one part of the village is done, an alternative solution needs to be found for the other part.

      Which will then render commercial investment impossible as the footprint of potential customers is jeopardised further.

      So I’d suggest local communities ignore BDUK and get on with their own solutions.

      Like Gigaclear.

      Should BT then deploy, which is almost certain if competition exists, then the village will have a choice of a modern infrastructure or something from excellent to mediocre over an old phone network.

    • I’ll see you your village not getting served by BDUK apart from 2Mb and raise you 2 of the cabinets on this estate whose areas neighbour this >50% take up cabinet being left until final 2Mb phase.

      I have asked our local BDUK man if this means what it should – that those fully ducted areas are receiving FTTP as the rest of the estate and indeed any other place with a high expected take up and the infrastructure in place to make it relatively cheap should have.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Do come back and tell us what the BDUK man BT say.

    • You have no idea how accurate that appears to be at times.

      I’ll also update if I get a response to the open letter on the site.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @Ignitionnet: I have your open letter to BT with interest. However, have you ever tried, as part your campaign to deploy FTTP, to get another telecom provider into your area?

    • More than one. BT are the only ones with access to the relevant infrastructure.

  5. Whether Gigaclear do achieve this level of coverage or not it is very good to see the aspiration.

    BT spent as little as they could in their deployment and have left the door open for others to step in, especially in urban areas.

    Rumbles reach me that, a matter of months after completing the commercial deployment, Openreach are already facing having to spend more money on existing rollouts in terms of vectoring and potentially profile 30a.

    G.Fast has become somewhat more urgent also.

    I would suggest that BT Group clearly want to spend the bare minimum on infrastructure – they feel their Retail arm’s sports rights are more of a priority, and that everyone is better served reaching out to their council if in an urban area to ask them if they’ve talked with CityFibre, to contact Virgin Media if in an area near their network, or GigaClear if in a rural area.

    Nothing to lose, everything to gain. If BT insist on spending the bare minimum let’s all ensure that that bare minimum is rather higher than they want it to be.

    • Avatar fastman2

      If gigacleat do deploy them the village may not remain white and will therefore not be able to have BDUK funding covered – so you need to be well informed

    • I would certainly hope not. A place with access to 1Gb/s FTTP certainly shouldn’t have BT receiving public money to deploy a poorer service. If BT want to sell their retail product there I am sure Fluidata would be happy to help.

      http://www.fluidata.co.uk/network/

      You make it sound like a bad thing for there not to be a taxpayer subsidised overbuild of 1Gb privately funded FTTP.

    • Avatar DTMark

      That, or, to keep very quiet about what we’re up to.

    • Avatar No Clue

      “If gigacleat do deploy them the village may not remain white and will therefore not be able to have BDUK funding covered – so you need to be well informed”

      You mean like the 97% of Newcastle BT are about to unleash their inferior government paid for FTTC to when a sizeable chunk already has VM 150Mb available? Oh i see its only BT that should be allowed money to overlap massively.

  6. Avatar DTMark

    “everyone is better served reaching out to their council if in an urban area to ask them if they’ve talked with CityFibre, to contact Virgin Media if in an area near their network, or GigaClear if in a rural area.”

    Tried that. Just not interested. Driven centrally by BDUK, this is the BT VDSL rollout programme. Other suppliers and solutions do not qualify, so no can do.

    • Point them to CityFibre’s success in York.

      Don’t frame it in terms of BDUK but in terms of the benefits to all of competition, including local authorities.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Absolutely no interest at all. We had a local councillor involved too, but that got nowhere.

      Perhaps the area is in line for FTTP. Perhaps an alt-net has been sought to deliver. Nobody knows, and nobody is permitted to know. Given that the rollout of some form of broadband network around here is so many years late now already and BDUK 1 runs until 2017, and given that the project has no real targets – just “aims” one of which is a basic 2Meg which is useless, I suspect we’re best to proceed with our own project; BDUK is just a diversion.

  7. Avatar fastman2

    DT – interesting

  8. Avatar fastman2

    DT have you have a conversation with Openreach around what the art of the possible is the part of the village not covered

    • Avatar DTMark

      No, because nobody knows for certain which parts of the village will be deployed to, with what technologies, nor what the performance will be. Openreach’s “can’t do” attitude and farcical pricing the moment “fibre” is mentioned, coupled with their dreadful performance, don’t make them stand out as any kind of natural candidate.

  9. Avatar fastman2

    No clue as previously advised th 97% will be a headline figure — the virgin areas will be black and not white so no BDUK money can be spent those areas

    • Avatar No Clue

      No idea why you are responding to me here. Regardless that is not a headline figure that is the actual coverage figure they plan from the project. If it is not 97% coverage then please feel free to tell us all what the coverage will be.
      Public investment is once again being used to overlap areas that already have superior products available to them than BTs slow FTTC.

  10. Avatar fastman2

    DT so why dont you ask openreach formally to see – See FAQ’a – please advise hjow Nobody is (because someone will !!!!)

    No, because nobody knows for certain which parts of the village will be deployed to, with what technologies, nor what the performance will be. Openreach’s “can’t do” attitude and farcical pricing the moment “fibre” is mentioned, coupled with their dreadful performance, don’t make them stand out as any kind of natural candidate

    • Avatar DTMark

      What I find somewhat amusing is – many of the poles have DACS boxes on them.

      This area being a case in point. We haven’t had a land line for years now. Neighbour signs up for ADSL and a team come out with a cherry picker to swap the D-side. Suspect with the old one we had, since the status of that line changed then.

      If VDSL were rolled out, that’s 1300m of new copper needing to be dragged through a series of ducts that could be getting on for 100 years old. Just to attain some fairly miserable last-generation speeds which even 3G can keep up with.

      Maybe it’s all in good condition and this would be an hour’s work. Maybe it would be a major excavation exercise. That’s the problem – nobody knows, and it’s why BT want to price the risk with the customer. There’s an argument for starting afresh. It shouldn’t be cheaper to do it that way, of course, but then there’s the cost of the work and the price to the customer. That size of that differential is largely a factor of having a monopoly.

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