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Gigaclear to Extend 1Gb Fibre Cover in Rural Northamptonshire

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 (5:31 pm) - Score 1,296
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The state aid supported Superfast Northamptonshire (SFN) project has announced that UK ISP Gigaclear’s current roll-out contract (Phase 3) has been extended, which will see the provider build their new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network to 700 more rural premises than planned.

As we recall, the original Phase 3 contract with Gigaclear aimed to provide broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps to over 6,336 premises by the end of March 2019, although this completion date was later delayed by some of the ISPs earlier problems with planning and resources (here). On top of that they had a big commercial rollout in the area, which was expected to take their total coverage to around 25,000 premises.

NOTE: SFN aims to extend “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) to over 99% of premises by March 2021 (it’s already at 98%+). The county council also has an ambition to achieve 75% gigabit-capable and 40% “full fibre” coverage by December 2023.

Under the updated plan Gigaclear will now reach an additional 700 premises in rural areas, which gives them a total contracted roll-out of 7,000 premises. When combined with the provider’s  separate commercial plans in the county, it’s now expected that as many as 30,000 homes and businesses in rural Northamptonshire will gain access to gigabit “full fibre” connectivity.

The communities set to benefit from this extension include parts of Blatherwycke, Braunston, Flore, Grafton Underwood, Nether Heyford, Oundle, Silverstone, Stanwick, and Upper Heyford.

Jason Smithers, Cabinet Member for Highways and Place, says:

“This extension of our plans with Gigaclear will bring massive connectivity benefits to more people, young and old, living and running businesses in rural Northamptonshire. Poor networks in these areas are a massive frustration to many. Our investment in full fibre networks will ensure that we not only address the data demands of today but can also meet those of tomorrow.”

Catherine Warren, Manager for the East Midlands at Gigaclear, added:

“We’ve already helped to bring full-fibre coverage in Northamptonshire to over 14 percent and we’re really pleased to be expanding our network in the county. COVID-19 has highlighted just how vital ultrafast connectivity is to modern life, which is why we’re determined to reach communities left behind by other providers.

Connecting rural areas to ultrafast internet isn’t easy and there are plenty of civil engineering challenges to overcome, but the end result is worth it. The extra homes and businesses set to be connected to our network have been suffering from internet speeds as slow as 1Mbps, making even simple online activities impossible. We’ll be providing speeds of up to 1Gbps – as fast as the internet in Silicon Valley.”

The past and present funding for this full fibre deployment work is a combination of public and private investment, totalling £15.7m. This includes a £4.5m contribution from Northamptonshire County Council, £2m from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (managed by Defra’s Rural Payments Agency), £3.5m from Building Digital UK (BDUK) and over £5.7m from Gigaclear itself.

At the last check in March 2020, Gigaclear had already delivered 3,150 premises under their Phase 3 contract, which was expected to complete by March 2021, although we note on the project’s website that some locations will not now be done until Q3 and Q4 2021 (e.g. Ashton Wold is the most delayed). Meanwhile the delivery time-scales for today’s extension have yet to be confirmed.

Naturally there will be more funding for future improvements to come, once the UK Government has set out precisely how they intend to invest £5bn in order to boost gigabit-capable broadband across the final 20% of hardest to reach premises.

Leave a Comment
10 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew says:

    Do we still think Devon and Somerset made the right decision to cancel there contract? It seems Gigaclear has got on top of there issues and connecting homes.

    1. Avatar Sam Machin says:

      Well I’m in North Somerset, Gigaclear are in the middle of the commercial build in our village should be ready for service Dec/Jan. Meanwhile I don’t think CDS have even come up with a new shortlist of providers.
      Draw your own conclusions! I’d say Gigaclear did well to get rid of CDS and their bureaucracy!

    2. Avatar Somerset says:

      @SM – where are Gigaclear in parts of Devon and Somerset, Wick St Lawrence, Brean Down etc, the hard bits? Your village has superfast, unlike many areas.

    3. Avatar Ryan O'Neill says:

      They definitely have not got on top of their delays. They promised to stop missing deadlines and have since missed two for my area in North Herefordshire. I wrote a real snail mail letter to them to try and get their attention, nothing in response. Fastershire don’t hold them to account either. My main issue is that we cannot even get Openreach to consider a Universal Service Obligation as Gigaclear keep saying they’ll be starting ‘soon’.

    4. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      Gigaclear and Fastershire are as bad as each other in keeping to schedules – dates are still slipping. With a bit of luck (!) they just might make progress over the next year, as at least there are some planned works showing on one.network now.

  2. Avatar Gary says:

    Lots of civil engineering challenges in rural ? like what ? Cut slot in road run fibre Or does she mean civil engineering cost challenges.

    Pretty bored of hering about the ‘challenges’ of rural deployment and hard to reach communities, just be honest, the difficulty is cost vs return, everything else is just waffle.

  3. Avatar Gary says:

    I’m in the ‘final 20% of hardest to reach’ Mark mentions in his closing paragraph, I’m not hard to reach at all, unless hanging fibre on the telegraph poles that run to my house is somehow harder than elsewhere.

  4. Avatar Granola says:

    They have big issues getting permission to cross railway tracks and rivers/streams even if there is a bridge there it would seem. I guess that is some of the challenge.

    Maybe that is why a paltry extra 700 premises is so newsworthy.

  5. Avatar IAN FRASER says:

    Why after local and national government subsidies to install the infrastructure are gigaclear the sole provider with no plans for competition from other providers in the near future. The word monopoly springs to mind.

  6. Avatar Granola says:

    They go where others fear to tread at the moment and charge a pretty penny to those who are desperate and can’t wait for OR to lay fibre.
    I don’t think it is a monopoly, just their business model, they choose this over being yet another supplier in a surbaban area.

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