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Gigaclear and Truespeed Battle to Bring FTTP into Somerset Village

Thursday, January 17th, 2019 (4:44 pm) - Score 2,071
truespeed muddy fttp trench

Residents of Walton-in-Gordano in rural Somerset (England) have become the latest in the county to find themselves in a rather unusual situation, where two alternative UK network (altnet) ISPs – Gigaclear and TrueSpeed – are proposing to extend their Gigabit capable “full fibre” (FTTP) broadband networks into the area.

At present the state aid supported Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) project with Gigaclear is already known to be targeting the coastal village of Walton-in-Gordano as part of their existing roll-out plan, which could see the ISP’s 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network reaching the area by 2020.

However that project has recently suffered some significant delays (here) and it’s now widely feared that it could take Gigaclear a lot longer before it reaches the rural community (a revised plan has yet to be agreed), which is home to around 300 people. As a result locals may be stuck using slow copper ADSL broadband lines for even longer.

But Gigaclear are no longer the only player in town and in a rare event TrueSpeed, which is another FTTP provider that operates in the region, has also proposed to extend their network into the same community. According to the North Somerset Times, this build could cost a hefty £500,000 and the ISP won’t agree to do the work unless 30% of local premises provisionally sign-up (demand-led commercial deployment).

Assuming locals agree then the network would take around 12-18 months to deploy, which seems likely to mean that TrueSpeed could get there before Gigaclear, raising questions over the latter operator’s use of public investment to do the same area.

Admittedly this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen TrueSpeed clash (overbuild) with other operators in the area (usually Openreach’s slower FTTC solution) and they don’t seem to mind, so long as there’s enough interest to make it worthwhile. In theory Walton-in-Gordano might even find itself with a choice of two FTTP providers, which is an extremely rare thing to see in any rural location.

TrueSpeed has set itself an aspiration of covering 75,000 premises by 2021 and possibly 200,000 by 2025 (here), although they tend not to say much about their roll-out progress in public. Much of their initial deployment has focused on the Chew Valley region but they’re also going beyond that.

Despite being a fairly young provider the ISP was in 2017 able to secure a huge investment of £75m from Aviva Investors to expand their network (here), which is powering their expansion. Today the ISP was also awarded with INCA’s Gold Standard Quality Mark (here).

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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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14 Responses
  1. Avatar New_Londoner

    Any idea if Truespeed provided input during the Open Market Review? If it did then it could challenge Gigaclear’s planned development.

    • Avatar Jim Weir

      Truespeed couldn’t enter OMR as being demand led they have no idea where they will build. Everything is a possible target.

  2. Avatar Lewis

    This already happened in the village of Mark. Gigaclear were meant to come in and Truspeed beat them too it. I’m pretty sure their use of poles and dropwire is helping massively compared the Gigaclears purely underground deployment.

  3. Avatar A_Builder

    Very healthy having different modes of deployment being built in the field.

    And very very healthy having a nimble contender to sneak in when the medium sized contender is a bit slow on his feet.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      Gigaclear has the disadvantage of having a published plan of sorts. Anyone else can review this and cherry pick, especially as Gigaclear is making such a hash of deployment, being woefully behind schedule.

  4. Avatar AnotherTim

    If Truespeed requires a 30% sign-up from village with 300 properties, and the cost is £500,000 then they’re willing to invest £5k per property. I don’t know what they charge per month, but it will take a while to show a return.

    • Avatar Neb

      Insane price per property passed, even if they charged £100pm (15year+ payback)… not worth it, unless they are passing through the village anyway – or just proving a point?

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      Actually, I misread the article – it is 300 people not properties in the village, so the cost per property is probably double (i.e. £10k per connected property, or >£3.3k per property passed).
      I’ll not be investing.
      I’m not sure what the CDS cost per property is.

    • £500k does seem a bit high in general for that sort of village.

    • Avatar Jim Weir

      The Truespeed marketing event was held in this village but their build for £500k will be a larger area including the fibre path back to their existing build picking up settlements enroute

      As they build Aerial with pole sharing I would guess their build cost is approx £600-1k per property

      Their terms with Aviva probably need blocks of £500k at a time

    • Avatar Joe

      Jim’s comment sounds logical. There’s no way they’d be doing it at the given cost just for that village.

  5. Avatar Meadmodj

    I appreciate that there may be an element of cherry picking but I find it Interesting that Truespeed rollout is set as being commercially viable if there is 30% take up (includes users on existing contracts with other ISPs) of a 200Mbps (non-contended network design) at £50 per month on 18 month contract. Truespeed do not offer a lower entry product such as Gigaclear’s Go30. Certainly a sound business model compared to other ISP rollouts where the higher speed take-up or overbuild is a risk.

  6. Avatar Martin

    Same situation in Sandford and Churchill. Gigaclear were targeting Q2 2018 originally then it kept slipping and is now TBA.

    Since then Truespeed got 30% interest by August 2018 and due to go live in March 2019.

    They connected the fibre to my house last week and have been digging up the roads since October 2018, making great progress.

    Seen no sign of any Gigaclear vans, workmen… CDS has been a massive let down.

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