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Gigaclear Target 100000 Rural Premises for FTTP Broadband by End 2017

Monday, June 20th, 2016 (9:06 am) - Score 1,361
gigaclear fttp civil works on street

Fibre optic ISP Gigaclear, which is deploying an ultrafast Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network to rural communities around the United Kingdom, has confirmed that they now aim to cover 100,000 homes and businesses by the end of 2017.

At the time of writing we understand that Gigaclear operates around 60 rural fibre networks, with at least 25 more under construction and many others in the planning phase around parts of Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, Kent, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Rutland in England.

The last official update from earlier this year (here) suggested that they had already passed 20,000 premises with their Gigabit FTTP network and hoped to reach approximately 40,000 premises by the end of 2016 (at this point they should have approximately 130 small networks, each covering one or two villages).

Some of these networks are funded by around £10m worth of public investment through the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme (e.g. Gloucestershire [here], Essex [here] and Berkshire [here]), but most of Gigaclear’s funding has come from private investment and loans (e.g. around £48.6m raised in equity and approx. £18.5m from a debt facility via the European Investment Bank). The ISPs total valuation currently sits at about £115m and their currently planned deployment should deliver coverage to 48,906 premises.

Going forward Gigaclear has also previously said that they have commercial plans to reach another 30-40K premises (around 80,000 total out of a theoretical “addressable market” of 1.5 million UK premises), which will require more investment. But a new report in The Telegraph claims that they now intend to target 100,000 premises by the end of 2017 (they also have a longer term goal of 200,000).

In keeping with that a recent June 2016 report from InnovFin predicted that Gigaclear’s capital expenditure would sky-rocket to a peak of £1 million per week this year, which shows just how fast the spend and pray approach to investment is being turned into a practical fibre optic network. But it will take many years before this can be turned into a complete profit.

Matthew Hare, Gigaclear CEO, said:

BT’s copper, the cables and the ducts, just aren’t working. We’re building fibre from scratch, and the proof is that not one customer cancelled last month. [But] we’ll still be loss-making next year as we grow the business and build more infrastructure.”

The ISP was widely reported to be on the cusp of becoming AIM listed in 2014 and then 2015 (here), a sub-market of the London Stock Exchange, but apparently this was put on hold because “Vladimir Putin’s tanks were driving through eastern Ukraine” and causing market jitters. Ofcom’s Strategic Review might have also played a role and the current Brexit debate probably doesn’t help.

Never the less Gigaclear do still plan to float at some point and indeed to reach the next 50,000 premises they’ll need to find at least double what they’ve already got (investment), which won’t be easy but in many ways they’ve already shown the impossible to be possible. “[Ofcom ran] consultations which said fibre wouldn’t work in rural areas, but now [they’ve got] the evidence in front of them,” said Hare. More contract wins through the Government’s state aid fuelled Broadband Delivery UK programme are also on the cards.

Not bad for a business approach that effectively started life 6 years ago as a small network in the little Rutland village of Hambleton.

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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 TheManStan

    Did you mean pray as in hope or you do mean prey as in predatory?

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