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300Mbps for £10 – Ecom Entice Wingrave Locals to Quit Openreach

Monday, July 20th, 2020 (8:44 am) - Score 3,628

Rural UK ISP Ecom, which is currently building a new 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network across rural parts of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, has started trying to build enough interest to extend into the large village of Wingrave and win customers from Openreach’s slower FTTC network.

Until now most of the places where Ecom have deployed their “full fibre” (e.g. Mentmore and Crafton) have been in areas where “existing broadband infrastructure is either non-existent or so poor that the residents suffer with dreadfully low speeds.” However, Wingrave is different because many locals already have access to so-called “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) speeds, which they receive via Openreach’s Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) network.

NOTE: Ecom is private owned by Chris Wilkie.

Despite this Ecom appears to have received an initially positive reception to the prospect of extending their 1000Mbps+ capable FTTP broadband network into the same village, which is home to around 1,500 people (c.650 premises). The deployment, if it proceeds, would receive most of its funding for installations via vouchers under the Government’s £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme.

The difficulty is that in order to make the build viable they’d need to get a commitment from 250 homes (around 40% of the village) for the first 12 months of service and as a result they’re trying something different. Ecom intend to offer locals the ability to take their unlimited 300Mbps (50Mbps upload) package at just £10 per month for the first 12 months (£36 thereafter), which is one of the cheapest broadband deals we’ve ever seen.

Chris Wilkie, MD of Ecom, told locals:

“The village has been on our radar for a while but it is a different business proposition to the projects we have worked on to date. Up to now we have concentrated on villages, for example Mentmore, Crafton and Ledburn, where the existing broadband infrastructure is either non-existent or so poor that the residents suffer with dreadfully low speeds.

For this reason we end up as the only viable choice in these villages and that means we achieve a high proportion of homes connecting to our network, usually 80% or more. Building these networks is extremely expensive and you can understand I need to be confident that there is some hope of seeing the investment back over a period of years by having a good number of subscribers.

Wingrave on the other hand, comparatively speaking, has already got reasonable broadband available. … That said, as I mentioned earlier, when the email went out a few weeks ago we got a huge response from people expressing their interest. It is clear there is demand for better broadband in Wingrave, we just need to prove that the appetite is big enough!

We are going to try something new for Wingrave in the hope of encouraging you to make the switch to our network. For the first 12 months we will be offering our ‘Home 300’ service, which gives a 300mbps broadband and a landline phone, for just £10 per month. That means you can cancel your ‘BT’ landline altogether and, if you wish, still keep your phone number on our system.”

The ISP appears to be making the reasonable assumption that local customers “will be so pleased with our service that you will want to continue at our standard pricing of £36 per month” (i.e. once the first contract term ends). We should point out that Ecom also does a 500Mbps and 1Gbps package, but those are much more expensive at £66 and £96 respectively (the cost is not a surprise given the ISP’s small size and rural focus).

In theory if enough interest can be generated then the build could begin as soon as September 2020, although it’s probably wiser not to talk too much about time-scales until enough local support for the project has been secured. Ecom intends to do some additional campaigning over the next few weeks in order to build support for their plans.

The X factor in all this (not the Simon Cowell variety) is whether or not Openreach (BT) responds with a similar FTTP deployment of their own. The operator’s rival full fibre is already present in neighbouring Aston Abbotts and Rowsham, which are only a stone’s throw away from Wingrave. However, at present their engineers have bigger areas to tackle nearby (e.g. Aylesbury and Leighton Buzzard).

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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.
Leave a Comment
14 Responses
  1. Ryan says:

    Can almost hear the openreach vans pulling up to the area after deciding how important this town is now to the FTTP rollout.

    Can I get an altnet to do a press release to say they are coming to my town? Might spark openreach into live and give us something better then 25/3 we have now.

    1. Bob the builder says:

      25/3? Quit complaining. It costs millions to deploy FTTP! Openreach is doing all the sub 10mbs places at the moment and citys to fund it. 25mbs is perfectly fine.

    2. AnotherTim says:

      “Openreach is doing all the sub 10mbs places at the moment”
      I wish that were true – sub USO areas are not being prioritised. BT are rolling out FTTP to areas that make commercial sense to them. Some of those areas may include sub USO lines, but are more likely to be predominately superfast lines.

  2. Chris@Ecom says:

    PRaaS… Press Release as a Service. I like that idea; be a lot easier than building fibre ourselves!

  3. FibreBubble says:

    Looks like their accounts are overdue from Nov last year.

    1. Noel Garner says:

      Many companies have this problem due to COVID – HMRC put a freeze on returns.

    2. New_Londoner says:

      I thought HMRC had allowed a delay in returns rather than putting a freeze on them? More importantly, as the returns were due by last November then they should have been submitted well before any problems from Covid surfaced.

      Companies House records three instances of compulsory strike-off action being initiated and then discontinued in each of the last three years. The most recent accounts shown are for the period to February 2018. The prices for its services are very competitive but I’d have a contingency ready if I were thinking of buying them!

    3. Anon says:

      This does follow a trend of other companies run by Wilkie. Netrino UK for one.

  4. JitteryPinger says:

    How long before before they’re broke then!

  5. MAX says:

    £10 a month for 12 months is a true bargain for 300/50. Hat off to them.

  6. Peter says:

    Think you meant ‘positive’ not ‘position’ in third paragraph, Mark 🙂

  7. Ashley says:

    Two miles down the road! Please guys take a right into wing on the way past!

  8. Joe Pineapples says:

    ‘I’d buy that for a dollar!’

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