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Three Alternative Broadband ISPs Prep New UK FTTP Builds

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021 (11:32 am) - Score 7,104
fibre optic red and blue broadband cables 2018

Three alternative network (altnet) providers – Briant Broadband, Spring Fibre and Stix Internet – have today revealed their intention to deploy gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) networks to homes and or businesses across different parts of the United Kingdom.

All three ISPs were spotted after they put in a request for Code Powers from Ofcom (here, here and here), which is something that network operators often do in order to help speed up the deployment of new fibre optic networks and cut costs by reducing the number of licenses needed for street works.

The applications for Briant Broadband and Stix Internet also mentioned a desire to build or extend a complementary Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) network alongside their FTTP plans. All three also intend to make some use of Openreach’s (BT) existing cable ducts and poles via the Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) product.

As usual ISPreview.co.uk has done a little digging in the hope of finding out some more information about each of the companies involved.

Briant Broadband

Ofcom’s documentation notes that Briant Broadband (incorporated on 11th August 2020), which is a subsidiary of Briant Communications (Sussex) Ltd, plans to deploy their FTTP network in England. The focus is said to be on “areas without access to high-speed broadband, including in hard-to-reach rural communities and areas served only by BT’s copper access network.” People living in multi-dwelling units and residential estates are also on their list.

The provider’s website suggests that this will probably be focused, at least initially, on the Sussex area and indeed they already offer a 1000Mbps package for just £40 per month. Unfortunately their website is extremely sparse on package details, or indeed any useful information concerning specific network availability, which is a common problem with a lot of providers (you have to email or call them for more details).

Spring Fibre

Ofcom’s documentation reveals even less about Spring Fibre, which was incorporated on 25th September 2019 and has already allocated around £16m+ worth of shares. The provider intends to deploy FTTP in areas that are “not currently served by such networks or where is there very little offering of such networks, mainly areas served only by [FTTC] networks. It intends to meet the growing demand for increased bandwidth and provide services with speeds up to 10 Gbit/s.

Spring’s website is currently just a holding page, although their Linkedin profile suggests that the plan is to build a wholesale full fibre network that other ISPs can harness. The company’s CEO is listed as Rosalind Singleton, who is a former MD of UK Broadband Ltd (Three UK) and an active chair of the UK5G Advisory Board. She has also previously worked for BT, Cable and Wireless and Vodafone etc.

In short, we might not yet know the extent of Spring Fibre’s future plans, but they clearly have both funding and experience behind them, which is always a good start for any new venture.

Stix Internet (Northern Fibre)

Finally, we come to Stix Internet, which has been offering a fixed wireless broadband service (i.e. download speeds of up to 40Mbps and 10Mbps upload) to rural parts of Yorkshire for several years (mostly in areas to the South and East of Huddersfield). The company, which was incorporated in 2017, has two Directors – Tony Markham Armitage and Ross Lloyd Williams.

The proposed FTTP network is thus intended to be deployed within their current service area “initially“, and latterly elsewhere in the United Kingdom (focusing on those areas that are otherwise limited to copper based fixed broadband lines). Early packages will offer speeds of between 100Mbps and up to 500Mbps, albeit with future plans for 10Gbps.

At present Stix is quite a small ISP and so it’s unclear where the funding for their FTTP expansion will come from, although there are still plenty of investors hunting around for new opportunities and the gigabit voucher scheme will no doubt help. Stix informs us that the new service will be sold via Northern Fibre and the first deployment looks set to be in the HD8 and HD9 areas.

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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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16 Responses
  1. Nick says:

    Plusnet should be ashamed of themselves for no selling products: G. Fast up to 330/50 and all FTTP up to 1Gbps.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      I believe you may see ultrafast products from them this year.

  2. Nick says:

    I doubt they ever will

  3. Fran says:

    Regarding FTTP rollouts, my market town is on the Level? 3 list, I believe this means we are not very commercially attractive?
    According to the Openreach map we are rural (yes we have hills and sheep near the town) and are scheduled to get FTTP by 2024.
    Can an altnet supplier provide a service, or are we stuck with Openreach?
    There is FTTP in the town to new builds and those with deep pockets.
    FTTC is patchy with sub 24Mbs service in places.
    Looking at the voucher system, it seems very complicated and risky, especially when you read some of the comments in IspPreview and other sources.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      With sub 24Mbps from FTTC I’d recommend trying 4G. I doubt 2024 is likely for FTTP, they’re all talk, nothing more.

    2. Fran says:

      @Bugerlugz
      Unfortunately 4G coverage is not too good, can get 30Mbs download, but then it gets congested.
      No sign of 5G at the moment.

    3. Jon says:

      An altnet supplier can provide service – there’s nothing stopping them.

      That said, they would have to stomach the cost of building out just the same as Openreach, so your community would need to collectively convince them it’s a worthwhile exercise from a financial perspective.

  4. Ben says:

    I’ve unsuccessfully tried to contact Briant as I’m also in Sussex. I can’t say I’m impressed.

    1. Dan Cash says:

      I’m sorry to hear you had trouble getting in touch with us Ben. We’ve identified a few glitches with the Briant Broadband page of our website, and we’re about to fix them imminently. However, if you’re still interested (although I note that your comment was posted a few months ago) please email us on info@briantbroadband.com or call us up on 01903 221999

  5. C says:

    Odd that you don’t mention that there are nearly 100 companies already doing this in the UK. Your article makes these companies sound like ground breaking innovators, instead they are all me too catch ups.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      The article isn’t intended to be a grander summary of the wider market, which I do in many other articles (i.e. by now we shouldn’t have to highlight the obvious every single time), it’s just a short summary introduction of these three new entrants. I continue to keep this one up-to-date if you want a wider summary:

      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2020/04/summary-of-full-fibre-build-progress-across-uk-broadband-isps.html

  6. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

    I’m not sure the small Altnet model will work in the long term. Are they just pure Broadband providers, without the bell’s and whistles like TV packages? With the fixed/mobile convergence, in view after 2025, will they be able to compete? Will they have the scale to undercut the big players who have much bigger scale? Even the smaller Altnets will have to run NOC’s, and employ Engineers to service their customers. The Altnets will need to reach a certain scale to be cost efficient imo, which would suggest they need to attract lots of customers in their respective franchise areas. It’ll be interesting to see how many survive over the next 5 to 10 years.

    1. Ex Telecom Engineer says:

      Just to add, cynical me asks;

      Is it possible that many of these Altnets are looking at building, on the back of grants and Government voucher schemes, with the intention of selling the network once the build is completed? And do the rules allow that?

    2. LPP says:

      That is 100% the plan for some of them. I’m aware of multiple that have specifically used all the same equipment as OR down to the brackets for CBTs to make it an attractive purchase and easy to onboard.

  7. Ks says:

    Question is pending for very long will any one of them count Buckinghamshire especially amersham rural areas as rural areas and hard to reach areas where only copper wire with FTTC is used, so far all of them including Opereach ignored it. Very disappointed when these companies says they will serve rural areas but ignore some rural areas over and again so it’s morning more than a political gimmick

  8. C says:

    “i.e. by now we shouldn’t have to highlight the obvious every single time”

    Yet anyone coming to the article fresh will be left with that exact impression. That this is something new, which it absolutely isn’t.

    All three were already on your extended list when you wrote this article.

    It’s odd that you don’t link to the extended list or refer to it.

    It makes these businesses sound more innovative than they really are, which is not at all.

    Can you envisage a scenario where a much bigger player mops up all these small companies and unites them in a much bigger beast?

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