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Gigaclear CEO Matthew Hare Exits as ISP Aims for 350K FTTP Premises

Friday, June 22nd, 2018 (8:18 am) - Score 2,601
gigaclear manhole

The CEO of alternative network ISP Gigaclear, Matthew Hare, has today announced that he is stepping down after 8 years of building Gigabit capable fibre optic (FTTP) broadband networks to rural parts of the UK. The company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mike Surrey, will become its interim CEO.

Under Matthew’s stewardship the once tiny ISP has grown significantly and today their 1Gbps+ Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network covers more than 65,000 rural homes and businesses (c.25% take-up) across 20 counties in England. Many of those have stemmed from state aid supported contract wins as part of the Government’s wider Broadband Delivery UK scheme. The ISP now aims to cover over 350,000 premises by 2021.

Gigaclear’s progress has not gone unnoticed and earlier this year the M&G Investment Management fund made its move to purchase the ISP for £270 million (here), which was backed by the provider’s largest shareholder Infracapital (43.2% holding). The latter is also supporting TalkTalk’s £3bn plan to make FTTP/H available to 3 million UK premises (here).

Such a huge deal tends to result in a shake-up of company management and so we shouldn’t be too surprised at today’s news.

Charles McGregor, Independent Chairman of Gigaclear, said:

“Having built Gigaclear into the most successful rural broadband company in the UK, Matthew has secured its financial future with the backing of institutional investors Infracapital and Railpen. I thank Matthew for his vision, energy and all the passion that he has brought to Gigaclear, and for setting the business on a course that will revolutionise the lives of millions of people across rural Britain.”

Stephen Nelson, Asset Management Director of Infracapital, said:

“We have worked closely with Matthew since our first investment in Gigaclear in 2015 and would like to thank him for the considerable amount he has achieved. The opportunity for Gigaclear remains very exciting and we are fortunate to have in Mike Surrey a proven leader with deep knowledge of the company and its opportunities.

We look forward to supporting Mike and the team in delivering the vision of bringing ultrafast, full fibre connectivity to rural Britain.”

Meanwhile Mike Surrey has pledged to “accelerate the pace of full fibre delivery to those communities to which we are committed,” although such management changes can also result in different strategies and we’ll be keeping an eye out to see how the company evolves. Nevertheless it shouldn’t be forgotten that Gigaclear are currently in the running for some other big rural contracts, such as R100 in Scotland.

Despite that we’ve long predicted that eventually the full fibre market will have to consolidate, which means that many of the medium sized FTTP/H/B providers like Gigaclear could end up being merged into much larger operations (assuming competition follows its natural course and isn’t interrupted by government policy changes).

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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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12 Responses
  1. themanstan

    Well done that man, he’s earned a good rest.

  2. AnotherTim

    I hope Mike Surrey’s pledge to accelerate the pace of delivery comes to fruition – their rollouts are slipping in several areas, and still no sign of any build starting in my BDUK lot.

    • Graham Long

      Start and completion dates for all BDUK contract lot areas are shown under the “Our Communities” tab on the Gigaclear home page. Is your lot area not shown?

    • AnotherTim

      Yes, dates are shown, and are updated a couple of times a year. I’m in lot 3c, where there are no areas currently under construction (contract was awarded in Dec 2016). There are start dates for some areas, but no sign of any starting (I can find no trace of any planned roadworks for Gigaclear registered with GCC at all in those areas). The build in Minsterworth was due to start at the beginning of May but has been delayed until Q3. There are lots of areas ahead of mine, so every delay is likely to push the start date, and therefore the availability date, further into the future. To be fair, the original start date for my area was Q2 2020, and it has been moved forward, but the way things are going I expect it may get back to that.

    • Graham Long

      Gigaclear have roadworks scheduled this July just down the river from you at Longney and Epney.

    • Graham Long

      https://roadworks.org/ is the best website to find planned roadworks up to a year out.

    • AnotherTim

      Longney and Epney aren’t in lot 3c, they are in lot 3e. There is a start date of 25 June for that, and roadworks.org shows work in July, so that more or less ties up. There are roadworks in both the GCC lists and roadworks.org for all of the Fastershire lots except lot 3c – there are none that I can find there, current or planned for the next year. There are telephone works for BT, and lots of other utility companies, but none for Gigaclear – despite the fact that some work is due now according to the rollout schedule.

    • Graham Long

      Tim, One of the things that has held up some Gigaclear roll outs in Devon & Somerset is obtaining wayleaves from land owners as running fibre along the dges of fields rather than in roads is obviously a prefered option, but sometimes landowners and the land agents they often employ hold out for increased compensation. Two days ago, the CLA and NFU announced new wayleave agrrements (https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2018/06/uk-landowners-revise-wayleave-agreement-to-help-rural-broadband.html ) to help speed up such bottlenecks and it may be that lot 3c has such a problem. Suggest try emailing Gigaclear’s network design team to see if they can give you an update.

    • AnotherTim

      It may well be that wayleaves may hold things up, but I would have expected that most of the builds would involve council controlled land. Unfortunately I can’t get a response from Fastershire or Gigaclear any more. Gigaclear say to watch the “monthly” updates to their rollout schedules, Fastershire say don’t look at Gigaclear for any BDUK dates as their dates are only for commercial rollouts, and that my local area will start build in Sep 2018 (which is never a date Gigaclear have given). Although I’d like fast broadband asap, I’d be happy with a firm date – I didn’t go with a leased line a few years ago because Fastershire said FTTC was coming “soon”. I’ve been going with makeshift solutions (currently load balancing ADSL and 4G), but will soon have to commit to another contract period, and without any reliable dates it is impossible to make sensible plans.

    • Graham Long

      Fastershire are wrong, none of the dates shown on Gigaclear’s Fastershire roll out schedule are commercial. The best estimate you are going to get from Gigaclear for the Minsterworth area (Area 29) build is beginning in Q3 2018 with completion in Q1 2019.

    • AnotherTim

      I’m not in Minsterworth – that was just one of the first areas due to be built, along with Highnam et al. My area is well down the list, which is why I’m concerned that any slippage now will just get worse (the build is radiating out of areas they have already built, and I’m almost as far away as you can get). Mind you there is the old adage “The sooner you fall behind the longer you have to catch up”!

  3. simon

    Well according to VM wayleaves are no longer required maybe that’s just for them but it takes about 10 days off the leadtime on a leased line or business connectivity

    Or so they told me anyway – it should be for all ISPs if so

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