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Gigaclear Beat BT and Virgin to Deploy FTTP Broadband in Crazies Hill

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 (7:58 am) - Score 1,166
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Fibre optic ISP Gigaclear has beaten both BT and Virgin Media by reaching a deal to bring 1Gbps “ultra-fast” broadband services to the rural village of Crazies Hill in Berkshire (England), which will also benefit the surrounding communities of Cockpole Green, Warren Row and Knowl Hill.

The tiny and comically named village of Crazies Hill first hit our headlines last November (2015) after the Government’s then Home Secretary, Theresa May (MP for Maidenhead), stepped in to help support local residents in their campaign for better broadband (here). Sadly the initial hope of roping in BT to do the work didn’t pan out.

At present the local state aid supported Superfast Berkshire project is already working with Openreach (BT), Gigaclear and Call Flow to roll-out “superfast” (24Mbps+) capable broadband networks to 95.6% of the county by the end of 2017, but the above villages have largely existed outside of that focus.

Poor connectivity and sub-2Mbps speeds have long been a problem for the area and last year’s intervention had hinted towards the possibility of BT deploying their “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) network into the area, although this could have taken until 2018.

Separately Virgin Media recently selected the nearby village of Wargrave to benefit from their on-going network expansion (here), which the operator said could have conceivably supported an extension to Crazies Hill by around 2018.

However the Henley Standard reports that both BT and Virgin’s offerings would also involve £100,000 to £200,000 of funding from the community to cover about 150 homes in Crazies Hill and Cockpole Green (i.e. around £660 to £1,320 per resident). A tough ask for such a small area.

By comparison Gigaclear’s network was already expected to reach several areas around Wargrave (not unlike BT’s own roll-out in the region) and all they required for the extension was for 40% of locals to make a commitment to sign-up (plus a £100 activation fee and an optional £95+ installation charge [self-installs would make this free]).

A Gigaclear Spokesperson said:

“[We] would like to thank all our supporters who have worked extremely hard to secure better broadband in your area. Without their efforts and your support, we would not be building in your community.”

Local residents said they were “highly delighted” by the agreement and the roll-out phase could now begin as soon as October 2016, with completion being expected around May 2017. However the now Prime Minister, Theresa May, warned in a canned statement that “there is still much work to be done across the constituency.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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13 Responses
  1. Steve Jones

    Call Crazies Hill a remote rural village is rather pushing it. It’s only about one and a half miles (by road) from Wargrave. I know the place fairly well (and can even remember when there were two pubs there).

    • gerarda

      “Remote” in BDUK/BT terms is anything beyond reach of an existing cabinet – one and a half miles is enough to qualify for “remoteness”

    • Steve Jones

      I see the remote adjective has disappeared. I suppose I could push the point and say that (technically speaking) it’s a hamlet and not a village. A well heeled hamlet that is.

      There are, of course, thousands of places like this in the UK. Very desirable places too live but with poor BB services.

    • NGA for all

      Steve, this is what I do not understand. The local project has clawback and underspend and perhaps ‘anticipated’ BT capital as LA are describing it, yet BT still manages to lose these. Gigaclear is likely to be able to this piece more cheaply, but why were so many areas excluded in the first place given the budgets available. There is £270m now in BT accounts owed to Government and La and they loose these. That takes a lot of effort.

  2. fastman

    NGA more disinformation as ever — this area was not part of any formal BDUk or any formally defined intervention area — and this has been contracted by Gigaclear outside of BDUK

    • NGA for all

      The original intervention area for UK was 5.5m 6m premises when SA336671 was approved and would have included all such places. Reducing phase 1 to 3.9m premises was a decision taken at the convenience of BT Group.

      Phase 1, given the budgets available could have embraced a much larger geographic territory.

      Given the budgets available it was within BT’s gift to offer to offer to do more.

    • New_Londoner

      @NGA
      You seem to have forgotten that the local authorities rather than national government determine the intervention area at county level, there never was a UK intervention area for the purposes of delivering anything. Are you perhaps confusing the area defined for the original state aid approval?

      You may also have forgotten about value for money limits that constrain the amount of our tax monies that is spent to reach any given property.

    • NGA for all

      @New Londoner I suggest you read the LA submissions to CMS Select Committee and to Ofcom, most complain of dealing with a company delivering what it wishes, even reducing it’s commercial footprint to avail of subsidy. LA’s had no control over BT’s roll out. There is no confusion, the notification was for 5.5m-6m premises, the reduction of phase 1 to c3.9m arose from metrics on cash flow generation and limited resource.

      The limits you referenced could easily raised if BT’s capital contribution was included in the planning phase. Rather than being applied individually you were free to average your costs over a larger area using a mixed solution.

      BT state aid receipts for Phase 1 are c£730m (per your accounts) against Phase 1 contracts of £1.1bn subsidy and BT contribution of £368m to allowable costs. Clawback is now £270m but sitting in your accounts and the BT capital (£368m of allowable, invoiceable costs)is ‘anticipated’ to quote one Local Authority.

      The point is the resources existed to have planned to do a great more if the resources were applied and you did not game your costs. The use of Proxy costs in the early contracts and evident in Audit Wales is the easiest example to see this.

      The resources still exist to do at least 500k FTTP in rural but it would have easier to have planned it day 1.

    • NGA for all

      @NL The state aid receipts to Sept 15/16 was £694m, -I need to update for the last three quarters – last quarter was £36m but the update will not change the argument.
      The cap could be easily overcome if you average across a larger area. Given the underspends and the capital due (in my opinion) and the clawback a great many of these places should have been planned. The FTTC costs were well understood, if not profoundly so, from the work in NI and Cornwall in 2010/11.

      The BT folk posting here are offering nothing on how the £270m will be deployed (it is two years of public subsidy) or could be deployed, no insight on where in your published accounts the £368m can be seen, even if it is just within a separate capital accrual ready to be used.

    • NGA for all

      @NL the corrected state aid receipts to June is £843m although BT is beginning to mix net and gross in its reporting. In the Q4 accounts the Capital Deferral looks to be incorrectly stated as £79m as opposed £179m the previous quarter and then it jumps again in TC presentation pack to £256m.

  3. fastman

    NGA

    most counties had a price per prem cap and it is my understanding that the majority with a few notable exceptions followed the do as much as you can for in terms of coverage and speed for a funding envelope

    this area was outside that funding enveloper and may have also be outside of the funding envelope of contract 2 or borderline for contract 2

    • NGA for all

      See my response to NL above.
      To avail of all the underspends, clawback and the anticipated capital contribution BT needs to commit to Fibre on Demand and develop a capacity to add what EIR describe as ribbons to the FTTC installations where there are clusters more than 1,500 from the cab.

      When are we likely to see this?

  4. fastman

    what ever the question NGA view of the world is the same !!!!

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