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New Operator Broadreach Networks Plans UK Full Fibre Build

Monday, October 12th, 2020 (1:10 pm) - Score 5,256
Light from fiber optic cable. 3d illustration.

A new company called Broadreach Networks has just thrown its hat into the increasingly crowded ring of operator’s that all intend to build gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband networks, but this one seems to be less of an ISP and more of a wholesale provider – with a focus upon smaller towns.

The operator revealed their intention as part of a new application for Code Powers from Ofcom, which can help to speed-up the deployment of new fibre optic networks and cut costs by reducing the number of licenses needed for street works to take place.

The application doesn’t reveal much, except that they’ll probably make some use of Openreach’s existing cable ducts (PIA) and intend to target “urban locations across the UK which do not have access to ultrafast broadband services,” which we gather means “small towns” rather than big cities. Aside from that we know very little about this operator.

The company, which is registered in Crowthorne (Berkshire), doesn’t yet appear to have its own website and was only incorporated on 16th April 2020. The CEO is Tom Williams, which may be a familiar name to some as he is the former COO of Hyperoptic (until January 2019) and prior to that he was the MD of BE Unlimited and the head of O2 UK’s LLU (unbundled copper broadband and phone) rollout.

Broadreach appears to have a fairly strong management team behind it, which should help to lend some credibility to whatever they may have planned for the future, and they’ve got about £3m worth of shares on their books. One to watch.

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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.
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21 Responses
  1. TheMansStan says:

    They’ve submitted an SH01 as of the 6th with 3M shares of £1, with zero unpaid, so have a starting bank balance of £3M.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Well spotted, I overlooked that.

  2. Ryan says:

    A FTTP provider hitting towns and areas that only have FTTC and no altnet, BT or Virgin in sight and should in theory “clear up” in these towns and villages – at last!

    Wish them all the best!

    1. Bill says:

      Don’t be surprised if these towns suddenly attract BT’s attention.

    2. Meadmodj says:

      The Altnets know that OR will move into most locations particularly SE at some time. If they stay local their biggest competitor in the towns for Ultrafast in the short term/medium would be VM. To the south into Surrey is OR FF. OR are probably avoiding Virgin areas until their investment priorities allow. Only Ascot is not currently covered. I think this is early days for this Altnet (startup costs) and they don’t need to implement where they are based.

      Certainly lots of people are convinced there is money in it.

    3. Karen says:

      Small towns might not be as devoid of Virgin and FTTP as one thinks. I live in a market town of just under 10,000 people. Virgin covers most of the town apart from the 2 new build areas to the north of the town(one house build finished and one house build just starting). BT are busy putting in FTTP to those areas.

      9 OpenReach vans on the estate and a squad of people working their socks off is a beautiful site to see

    4. Dave says:

      This may be true, as my town is on the OR market town list, but there is a consultation going on with Ofcom re funding.
      The decision will be made in March 2021, but presumabley if another provider shot in and got started, what would the position be?
      Are OR in Smaug mode?
      There is fibre east/west down the main road, some new builds have it, and some gov offices.
      North and South, loads of houses on sub-standard or overloaded fttc.

    5. NE555 says:

      > OR are probably avoiding Virgin areas until their investment priorities allow

      Why do you think this?

      If they build in Virgin areas, they will be able to take customers away from Virgin: this means immediate additional revenue.

      If they build in non-Virgin areas, they will only be able to take customers away from LLU/VDSL/G.Fast, i.e. themselves. The increased margin between 40M/80M FTTP, over and above the corresponding VDSL product is very low; and currently few people are prepared to pay extra for “ultrafast” speeds.

      So the worst possible place for Openreach to build FTTP is where: (1) there are existing good speeds on VDSL, and (2) there is no Virgin to steal customers from.

    6. Meadmodj says:

      OR are currently focused on the ROI of their initial rollout and are selecting areas to retain market share while supporting their contiguous approach to cover a wider geographical area eventually to maximise investment and maintain current revenue. VM and “good” VDSL areas are being included in FF however VM are about to release widespread 3.1 and it is uncertain what impact this will have on the broadband market and how aggressive VM will be on price. Yes most consumers do not want to pay more for their broadband but may move for faster speed for a similar price. If VM (or an Altnet) take significant market share in an area OR may decide to place that area at the back of the plan concentrating on low cost/hybrid until they get there.

    7. freddie says:

      I agree with NG55. If OR gave up FTTP i’d dump VM for life and sign up for the highest package whatever the price. I am 13 mile away from a part of 2Gbps hereford. I am considering moving actually.

  3. A_Builder says:

    Very interesting.

    I wonder if they will do PoC or just go straight the big funders leveraging the management team credibility.

    ATM the big funds are throwing money at FTTP – rivers of the stuff.

    At least I am sure the FTTP is a good medium term investment!

  4. Mark says:

    I think a lot of small towns are devoid of Virgin, certainly in Gloucestershire, except for Gloucester and Cheltenham area, that’s your lot, bit vague small towns, I suspect the Souh East only, can’t see FTTP targets being reached in the timeframes mentioned by Government anyway.

  5. Samuel says:

    …and just got info that OR scrapped FTTP plans for my location. URGH.

    1. OR says:

      good riddance openreach the evil one

  6. Samuel Carr says:

    Out of curiosity, theoretically would it be possible to create a small company, similar to broadreach networks, with enough money to just roll out fibre to your own house, as a wholesale provider, without having to pay the hefty costs openreach try to charge for the menial groundworks if you go through them ?

    1. Olly says:

      And where are you going to terminate the fibre? Who’s going to provide your transit and IPs at the other end?

      If you want full fibre, but don’t want Openreach, there are other options subject to availability. Zayo (Geo), SSE, CenturyLink (Level3), Virgin, C&W and many more operators have large fibre runs in and around major UK cities.

      It will cost you an awful lot more to get a point-to-point link all the way back to a non-BT PoP unless your area already has a metro fibre network. In which case, you’d already have fibre or would have approached a metro provider who’d have given you an eyewatering DWDM deal.

      There is a reason people choose “mainstream” ISPs to provide residential and even SME connectivity. It’s simply not cost-effective otherwise.

    2. A_Builder says:

      OR ground works charges are pretty fruity.

      There are plenty of examples of farmers and estates doing the trenching and OR, or others, blowing the fibre in.

      It helps if you have the local landowners on board – B4RN are a good example of what you are talking g about at scale.

      @Olly – this may seem a silly question to those of us with civils knowledge but if is a carrier busting question so it has some merit.

    3. AnotherTim says:

      In rural areas it isn’t the groundworks that make DIY solutions expensive (many farmers have trenching equipment and know how to use it) – it is the lack of backhaul.

    4. A_Builder says:

      Yes, that was true.

      Now not so much with the various initiatives to push multi use fibre into schools, local NHS & LA premises.

      The issue is more finding out where the nodes are: isn’t easy.

  7. ex-hype says:

    With a cover up of millions of pounds of network equipment going missing from Hyperoptic under his watch, what else are you going to do other than start an ISP!

  8. Ostolop says:

    Any way to find out when it is coming to my area?

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