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UPDATE2 Gigaclear and Call Flow Win Fibre Broadband Contract for Berkshire

Friday, July 3rd, 2015 (3:00 pm) - Score 1,832

Fibre optic ISP Gigaclear, fresh from picking up the state aid fuelled contracts for Epping Forest (Essex) and rural Gloucestershire, has today picked up another win by securing a deal to roll-out their 1000Mbps FTTP broadband network to parts of remote rural Berkshire in England. Call Flow Solutions will also deploy some slower FTTC.

At present the existing Superfast Berkshire project is currently working with BT to roll-out their “high-speed fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network to “around” 91% of local premises by the end of September 2015, although this tends to deliver significantly slower speeds. So far 17,513 premises have benefitted from this project, with 85 street cabinets upgraded.

But earlier this year the local authority issued a new £4.7m tender, which is based on an OJEU procurement rather than the existing BDUK framework, in the hope of finding a supplier that could help to expand superfast broadband (24Mbps+) speeds into the regions remaining slow-spots.

News reaches us today that Gigaclear has won all or part of the related contract, which is also being supported by the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme.

Statement from INCA:

Whilst most of the government’s rural broadband funding has gone to BT, some local authorities like Berkshire are looking at what the alternative providers can offer. Those that do find that the independents are flexible, offer great value for money and are focused on delivering fantastic services for local communities.

Gigaclear is an excellent example and in villages benefiting from their all-fibre gigabit infrastructure people talk about the transformation in their lives from the ‘digital dark ages’ BG (Before Gigaclear) to the new world of gigabit broadband AG – After Gigaclear.”

The BDUK programme is known to have allocated £3.56m (preliminary) in additional funding to the contract and we are awaiting final details of the exact deployment plan and any targets. Expect an update to follow.

UPDATE 4:20pm

The details are in and apparently 11,700 homes and businesses across West Berkshire will benefit from the new deal, with more than £3.7m of public funding invested in this phase and it’s claimed that West Berkshire will thus exceed 99% superfast coverage by the end of 2017.

Gigaclear will invest more than £4 for every £1 of state aid, contributing nearly £16 million. Sadly that’s all the detail we’ve got for now.

Matthew Hare, CEO of Gigaclear, said:

We’re delighted to celebrate a hat-trick of successes in being selected to bring ultrafast broadband to the Cotswolds, Epping Forest in Essex and now West Berkshire. Giving these areas one of the best and most reliable broadband services in the world means businesses and residents of all ages will benefit.

We are excited that these investments will make a significant contribution to economic development as well as transforming the online education, communications, entertainment and business experience.”

UPDATE 6:13pm

Some additional details just in, we’ve been informed that Call Flow Solutions will also provide a Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) solution to 11 new street cabinets in Windsor & Maidenhead, expanding superfast broadband with speeds above 30Mbps to in excess of 1,750 additional premises (residential and business).

This contract is targeting upgrades principally on the Windsor and Wraysbury exchange but is also expecting to address areas around Burchett’s Green and Horton. The combination of funding from Broadband Delivery UK, The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, and Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership of £415,000 is being supported with a contribution of £120,000 from Call Flow Solutions. Planning will start in July and delivery is expected to be completed by mid 2016.

Additional bids under Phase 2 were also received for Reading and Wokingham from Call Flow Solutions but due to a technicality, it was not possible to get these contracts authorised under the EU State Aid requirement before the deadline of 30th June 2015.

Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey, said:

These contracts with Gigaclear and Call Flow Solutions are a fantastic result for the extra 13,450 Berkshire homes and businesses that will now get superfast broadband as a result of our rollout. Our nationwide rollout is now reaching 40,000 more premises every week and by 2017, 95 per cent of the UK will have access to superfast speeds, providing a tremendous boost to local economies across the UK.”

Elsewhere Gigaclear expect to begin work on the construction of the new infrastructure in November 2015, with the first customers expected to gain access to new broadband services before the end of the year. The deployment is expected to be completed by the middle of 2017.

Superfast coverage is now set to rise from around 65% delivered under the commercial roll out of the private sector to in excess of 99% once Superfast Berkshire’s contracted delivery is completed.

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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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19 Responses
  1. TheManStan says:

    Excellent news. Having established themselves as an commercial entity with expertise rural SFBB developement they’re reaping the reward with winning tenders.

  2. Con Bradley says:

    I’d be hard pushed to think of any part of Berkshire as being classed as ‘remote rural’.

  3. AndrewH says:

    Does anyone know if the phase 2 contracts allow extensions of existing cabs in BT commercial areas?
    I’m in a commercial area on an active cab but too far from it (5.2Km).
    I know phase 1 didn’t allow this, but does phase 2 and do BT now have to say which ones they’re doing and which ones they aren’t?

    1. fastman says:

      Call flow is a sub loop unbundler so you can only buy a solution from call flow

    2. MikeW says:

      BT haven’t been announced to be part of phase 2 yet. Just Gigaclear and Callflow. So it is unlikely any Bt cabinets will get extended.

      The Callflow announcement suggests their work is based around some new cabinets, not extending the range of other ones.

      Gigaclear are putting a lot of their own money in – suggesting this is very close to a “commercial” rollout for them. I suspect they’ll be focussed on villages that have no coverage whatsoever, and the subsidy will get used to extend their normal “within the village” coverage to local outliers at most.

      Berkshire ran a new market review for this project, so will have gained knowledge about where BT intended to go in phase 1. The council knows, even if you don’t.

  4. fastman says:

    the call flow cabinets will be new and as previously indicated you will be only be able to buy a service from Call flow and no other service provider (as callflow is a sub loop unbundler) .

    1. MikeW says:

      As this is a BDUK-funded deployment, won’t they have to meet the wholesale requirement?

      That doesn’t mean that an ISP has to take them up on it … but they ought to offer.

    2. Yes they will have to offer a wholesale solution.

    3. fastman says:

      call flow are an SLU they do not offer a Wholesale offering

    4. fastman says:

      Plan being the operative word
      most of that Document is all about SLU and how to extend fibre to SLU

    5. Jacob says:

      Call flow already have a wholesale product they are not just an SLU

    6. Gadget says:

      so its a two-part question

      part one – for the SLU cabinets (11 is mentioned in the article) will Call Flow offer wholesale(if they do on any of the existing cabinets they have unbundled then that answers that part)

      and for part two are any of the mainstream ISPs already or planning to purchase that wholesale service being in mind the amount of system development required to add another wholesale provider, thus enabling their customers to retain usernames, mail services, bundles etc?

    7. JamesMason says:

      “…are any of the mainstream ISPs”

      Why does it have to be mainstream? Ive never heard of the mentioned company below until i looked them up. Is it just a size fixation you have?

    8. Gadget says:

      James, it about the vast majority of users who want to keep their existing Sky/Talktalk/BTRetail isp account with the bundles and their mail and vault etc. If the big ISPs don’t offer service over the altnet infrastructure then it make the change much more difficult changing from a upgrade with existing ISP to a complete ISP migration and, not matter how easy that is claimed, if is IMHO a big hurdle for the average user

    9. Cammy says:

      What utter rubbish, BT would not want or need to offer service over a smaller providers network.

    10. Gadget says:

      Cammy – exactly my point I made earlier in the thread if you are following it – even if a wholesale product is offered by Callflow it requires the ISPs to have the will to development and run additional processes and systems to utilise the Callflow product for a small customer base. So it is a lot of work for the ISPs for very few additional customers in the overall picture.
      So continuing the logic – if you are a end-user on a Callflow cabinet the likelihood is that you will not be able to purchase any other ISP than Callflow, and almost certainly not a service from the ISPs which make up the majority of the market. That may not be a problem for some, but I believe for many, average end-users, especially if they already have a DSL from the exchange , it will not be a situation that appeals to them – changing email accounts and email addresses, not being able to retain their existing ISP bundles.

  5. fastman says:

    spo what other service provider can you purchase FTTC from on a call flow cab

  6. OneCall Greg says:

    We use Call Flow to provide our services in and around Kent.


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