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New Full Fibre Broadband ISP Trooli Starts Rural UK Rollout in Kent

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018 (8:00 am) - Score 2,665
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Alternative network provider Call Flow Solutions has today taken the wraps off their new UK ISP brand, Trooli, which has spent the past few months gathering private investment and quietly rolling out a new Gigabit capable rural Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based ultrafast broadband network in Kent (England).

Call Flow is already quite well known in the industry and they’ve been building alternative networks using their own flavours of full fibre FTTP/H, hybrid fibre FTTC (VDSL2) and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology since all the way back in 2002 (see our 2016 interview with MD Andy Conibere). Most of their past work has taken place around their home county of Kent, as well as in parts of East Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire.

However Call Flow has now decided to branch out and today they’re formally launching a new FTTP/H provider under the brand of Trooli. Several Proof of Concept (PoC) networks for this have already been established in Kent since early 2018, albeit initially under the Call Flow brand, with local homes and businesses being offered download speeds of 300Mbps, 500Mbps and 1000Mbps.

The new ISP has a similar focus to rivals Gigaclear and TrueSpeed in that they’re aiming to plug the small rural towns gap, which they say are the sort of areas that were last to get “superfastFTTC broadband and have generally not been the focus of most FTTP announcements to date.

In order to do this they’ve also been making use of Openreach’s existing cable ducts via the revised Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) product, which is supported by Ofcom’s recent regulatory changes from their Strategic Review (here). “We are helped significantly by the government’s full fibre policy and the regulatory approach,” said Call Flow Director, Mary James, to ISPreview.co.uk.

The changes are said to be helping the provider’s otherwise small team to pass 1,000 premises per month, which is quite impressive given their size.

Andy Conibere, CEO of Call Flow, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We are really excited to be formally launching our new full fibre product and its associated branding – Trooli. This is after conducting extensive proof-of-concept testing from building two separate networks that could previously only get ‘up to’ 76Mbps FTTC services. Customer feedback on our 300/500/1000Mbps products has demonstrated a clear appetite for the higher speeds and more reliable service that true fibre offers over a copper alternative.

Being the longest standing active consumer of the Openreach PIA product, our deployment model leverages over seven years of experience using their ducts and poles. This experience has enabled us to get the £/premise passed costs to industry leading levels. Coupling our fibre network with Adtran’s XGS-PON 10Gbps equipment, that can be readily upgraded to NGPON2, means that broadband speeds can remain ahead of the demand curve and help make UK PLC more competitive.

Government and regulatory policy is definitely helping to drive Altnet growth, and the funding to facilitate this. Indeed, the regulatory environment on PIA is enabling us to commercially target smaller towns and larger villages that have only more recently benefited from superfast broadband after BDUK intervention.

We hope the brand name of ‘trooli’, helps get across to the general public what the industry and government is increasingly saying i.e. there is a very real difference between what is commonly being marketed as ‘fibre’ and what is truly fibre.”

At present trooli has completed their deployments to two rural towns and more than 5,000 premises, which cover Paddock Wood and King’s Hill (West Malling). Enough investment has also been secured to reach a further 10 towns over the next 12 months, which the provider predicts will expand their coverage by a further 26,000 premises (they’ll also double their headcount over the same period).

In terms of the unlimited residential packages, it’s noted that their 300Mbps, 500Mbps and 1000Mbps tiers for businesses are symmetric, while residential variants of the same plans include an upload speed of 30Mbps, 50Mbps and 100Mbps respectively (a launch promotion is boosting these uploads to 100Mbps, 200Mbps and 300Mbps). Pricing is £50, £60 or £80 a month inc. VAT residential and an 18 month term applies.

The activation fee is £80 on all products, which includes installation from Trooli’s fibre distribution point on the street to the small box they install to the external wall of the property, and the modem and router boxes. The lead-in is either underground or overhead, depending on the existing Openreach delivery method. Around 75% have been underground to date, and 25% aerial.

Meanwhile the outside-to-inside installation is either organised by the customer (kit supplied by Trooli and included in the £80 activation fee), or they can opt for a Trooli installation for £120 where the internal installation is completed by Trooli installers, and the service activated during the same visit.

Finally, we’re expecting some news of Trooli’s future investment and involvement with the government’s new Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) in the not too distant future. As a side note we should add that this is said to be the first UK deployment of ADTRAN’s new 10Gbps FTTP equipment (XGSPON).

trooli_fibre_optic_install

UPDATE 11:55am

Added a comment from ADTRAN.

Ronan Kelly, ADTRAN’s CTO for EMEA & APAC, said:

“ADTRAN are delighted to have the opportunity to advance our collaboration with Call Flow under the new Trooli FTTP brand. The Trooli team share ADTRAN’s vision to bring the Gigabit society to all. Trooli, not satisfied with addressing the digital divide impacting these rural communities, is leveraging our symmetric XGSPON technology to actually reverse it.

The true symmetric Gigabit service will ensure these communities can retain their best and brightest within the community, providing them with a foundation upon which they can build viable digital businesses, and create high value jobs for decades to come.

We applaud the disruption that Trooli is bringing through the reuse of existing Openreach assets, ensuring the raised investments are put to work maximising the number of consumers who can avail of these full fibre connections. With the option to overlay ADTRAN’s NGPON2, Trooli’s full fibre access networks have the potential for 100Gbps capacity on each optical distribution network, ensuring a sustainable, long term, growth path.”

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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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11 Responses
  1. Matthew Williams

    Good to see funny in some ways a lot of rural areas will end up with better connectivity than urban areas.

  2. NGA for all

    They deserve full praise for getting PIA to work.

  3. A_Builder

    Excellent news for the homes and businesses in the communities that they are serving.

    There seems to be a business to be made out of the bits where OR are not that interested but others see an ROI: interesting!

  4. Dominic Jones

    Curious to see how this ‘self install’ works (article mentiosn 2 installs methods £80 the customer does and £120 Trooli do)

    Considering it need hole drilling to input fibre, then fibre connecting into the ONT and Demarc point outside, this is something well outside the skill set of a lot of people.

    • Cliff

      The customer in both install choices does not have to connect the cable outside, basically all the customer has to do is drill a hole. Call Flow come and connect the cable to the outside box…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRILSMfUVtg

      I would suggest the ability to drill a hole is NOT outside the skill set of most people, time, owning the tools and actually being bothered to do it thereself are far more likely reasons they would not.

    • Assuming the property is occupied by a suitable handyman or, in this age of political correctness, I should perhaps say “handy-person”, then they will probably already have the drill needed to do it.

      Mind you I’m not sure if everybody would have the best drill or drill bit to do it properly / cleanly in one pass. I also fear that many may lack the kit needed to detect the presence of electrical cables or water pipes within the wall before attempting it.

      For those reasons I’d always recommend an engineer do it. A small extra cost for a little peace of mind.

    • Cliff

      “Mind you I’m not sure if everybody would have the best drill or drill bit to do it properly / cleanly in one pass. I also fear that many may lack the kit needed to detect the presence of electrical cables or water pipes within the wall before attempting it.

      For those reasons I’d always recommend an engineer do it. A small extra cost for a little peace of mind.”

      A basic £20 corded drill will be enough to drill through most common brick walls (preferably one with additional grip for 2 hand use, 500W or better and hammer function). You do not need a hunking great thing like contractors use IE 2000W things which weigh and cost a ton. Though i would agree it will make life easier and do the hole quicker the better, bigger and more powerful the drill. (forget using a cheap £10-15 quid 18V cordless pile of bleep).

      If you have solid concrete exterior walls or live in an property with exterior walls which are several feet thick then it may be more of a challenge. The drill bit like shown in the video (long masonry type) would cost you only around £5 if you look about. Electrical cables/pipes for the most part (not only most part) are common sense (IE dont drill the hole through a wall which your kitchen sink is mounted to or a mains socket) Again agree though for some that may not be common sense though i would hope they would have the sense not to touch any tools at all to begin with hehe 😉

      At the end of the day as the cost basically for an engineer to come out is only £40 difference (IE £80 setup/activation if you run your own wire or £120 if you want them to do everything) then yep if you want to avoid the hassle £40 more IMO is not that bad, especially if you have no confidence in doing what is required.

  5. Ashley

    Cliff, thanks for posting one of our installation videos. We will be updating and rebranding them in due course to Trooli. For clarity the £80 activation fee applies to all new customer orders. The additional £120 installation fee only applies if the customer decides to ask Trooli to carry out the outside to inside installation, but as you say we expect most customer to complete this themselves.

    • Cliff

      No problem, nice to hear you will be updating your videos, IMO they are good little and simple guides for customers.

      The only thing i would suggest to make things more customer friendly (if you do not do it already) is offer choices for the amount/length of cable people can specify.

      Someone who wants their modem on the ground floor of their house which is on the dead opposite side of the exterior wall will only want 2-5 metres of cabling, while someone that wants to hook things up to a bedroom or a room at the back of the house (or opposite side of the house to where the cable has to enter) will maybe want 10, 20 Metres or similar length of cable.

  6. KingJ

    Between Gigaclear in Shipborne/Hadlow, bits of OpenReach FTTP variously and now Callflow/Trooli in Goldhurst/Paddock Wood/Yadling/Kings Hill there’s now quite a bit of native FTTP in West Kent which is really exciting to see.

    Now if one of them could come and wire up Tonbridge itself which is increasingly surrounded by native FTTP but doesn’t have any* itself i’d greatly appreciate it!

    (* aside from a handful of Openreach FTTP in a few new build blocks of flats)

  7. John Nolan

    It won’t be an engineer that is called out…

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