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Welsh Altnet ISP Country Connect Launch No Frills 50Mbps Plan

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021 (8:06 am) - Score 648
country_connect_engineer_in_street

Alternative network ISP Country Connect, which recently began building a new gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network in parts of South Wales (here), has just launched a new “no frills” 50Mbps (10Mbps upload) package for £25 a month that is intended to cater for those who don’t need gigabit speeds.

Until now, the cheapest package available on their new full fibre network was £39.99 per month and for that you’d get a 100Mbps (30Mbps upload) speed on a 24-month term, with the price rising to £47.99 thereafter. But we note that Country Connect’s website still only shows the pricing for their Openreach based services and not their own FTTP build, which could be a little confusing – probably because their own fibre build has only just gone live.

So far, the provider has laid over 1km of optical fibre cable, mostly focused around the modest sized village of Ponthir and the town of Caerleon near Newport, with many more locations set to follow. Some 100 connections have already gone live as part of their demand-led deployment, and they aim to reach 5,000 properties by the end of 2021.

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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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17 Responses
  1. TSR says:

    Wow over 1km of fibre. That’s gotta be at least 2 properties then!

    1. TSR says:

      Whoops. It actually says over 100 properties. I guess that they are all very very close to each other then.

      Didn’t know they had tower blocks in semi-rural South Wales

    2. AnotherTim says:

      If they had the same average build rate as OR, it would have taken less than 20 minutes (and that’s with OR working 24 hours a day, so in working hours probably less than 10 minutes).

    3. RN says:

      You’re forgetting OpenReach would have demanded £20,000 upfront per property connected! Whereas AltNet’s seem to be happy investing around £600 per property covered.

      OpenReach FTTP engineer time is being massively over-exaggerated in order to claim a lot of money from the Government.

      If an OpenReach engineer + van + tools costs £52,000 a year, that’s £1000 a week “cost”.
      So, for 1 day of OpenReach work is valued at “£200 per engineer per day PLUS materials ie a reel of fibre.

      Considering every property is already served by copper, there is already an established path route for each install.

      Therefore it’s looking like OpenReach prices for FTTP network install are nothing but scandalous compared to AltNet builds.

    4. AnotherTim says:

      I think you are being rather harsh on OR. Many Altnets have taken BDUK money too, and with their lower build rate quite a few of us are still waiting for anything better than USO level ADSL from them. In my area an AltNet was awarded the BDUK contract 5 years ago, which has blocked other solutions as we have been no more than 12-15 months away from FTTP for the past 5 years – and we are still waiting.

    5. New_Londoner says:

      @RN
      Much of your post is incorrect.

      For example “OpenReach [sic] FTTP engineer time is being massively over-exaggerated in order to claim a lot of money from the Government.” You presumably realise that the majority of the Openreach FTTP deployment is commercially funded, with only a relatively small amount covered by the BDUK programme? So your comment doesn’t apply in most cases. Also, you’re presumably aware that any costs from any suppliers to the BDUK programme, including Openreach, have to be supported by invoices and are subject to audit?

      Your explanation of how to calculate the cost of a day’s labour would make sense to any accountant, as well as to anyone that has run a business. Why wouldn’t you include overheads?

      Looking at deployment costs per property, these can be difficult to compare as a rural build is likely to be more expensive than one in a typical urban area, although there are exceptions to this. However, the current average costs for Openreach mentioned in the press seem to be at least on a par with commercial altnet build costs if not lower.

  2. CeredigionMan says:

    I agree, as a private business responsible for making money for its share holders, why does UK Government and Welsh Government still subsidise BT?

    Monies from Welsh Government:
    Between 2016-18 BT received an additional 138 Million, 2020 200 million. I wish I had access to the full figures over the last decade, but that probably upset me even more.

    Rural Mid Wales is not seeing the money so where does it all go?

    We all agree we need better broadband but at what price, when BT seem to look for more monies than any other ISP? When Altnets can deliver quicker and for less money.

    To me its CRAZY but I’m no expert.

    1. NE555 says:

      > We all agree we need better broadband but at what price, when BT seem to look for more monies than any other ISP? When Altnets can deliver quicker and for less money.

      Try asking the opinion of people in the areas that Gigaclear were supposed to cover, and in the end their contracts had to be cancelled due to their total failure to deliver.

  3. Mark says:

    Thank you to everyone for reading and commenting on this post, as the MD of Country Connect I just wanted to take a moment to respond to you directly (from the horse’s mouth some may say)

    Our current FTTP build covering the villages of Ponthir & Caerleon is our first residential network build, leveraging the existing OpenReach network infrastructure [PIA] and providing residents with access to our ultrafast, ultra-stable broadband connection.

    Whilst 1Km might not be a huge amount of network to some providers, for us, it marks a significant milestone in our gigabit-capable network build, which is set to cover around 5000 properties this year and what’s more, has been built by our in-house engineering team and at no cost to the taxpayer, having been wholly funded by us.

    By the end of June 2021, we fully expect to complete the network build in Ponthir, representing around 5Km of optical cable ran and network access for more than 1000 properties 🙂

    Mark

    1. RN says:

      @ (MD) Mark

      Hi, Thanks for your update. I am very impressed with your efforts. Magnificent job considering the uphill battles against you with financing, building and implementing the project especially dealing with PIA legals.

      I don’t think anyone here was criticising your achievements. We mildly criticise OpenReach for ignoring areas like yours! I would be extremely grateful to be on the receiving end of your fibre offering. Must have been rewarding seeing the first customers connected.

      Perhaps you can share some information with us? What services/speeds were available before? Was it unreliable? Have you got a few delighted customers? What equipment/methods did you use for your project? Can you get people onboard quickly? Is it expensive/awkward to use/plan the PIA? What were the rough costs of PIA? Did you need to do any roadworks for microducting? Was it all plain sailing or did you have issues ie with council permission etc?

      Where is your Internet main feed coming from and what is that? IE 10G ?

      Your efforts are to be applauded as this is certainly not easy. My area is all underground OpenReach ducts but nobody ever wanted to take on the PIA game so just wondering what the hurdles are in general in going down that route. Are you ever planning on laying your own fibre? Going via fields like B4RN perhaps – it’s worth studying other companies for some inspiration. I am not familiar with PIA but are there area-to-area costs AND to the customers premise costs too?

      All the best to you and your team. Was great reading about your network. Maybe you can offer leased lines and fibre for cellsites in the future? Get some big customers on board perhaps to help you grow the company. Cheers.

    2. Oggy says:

      It’s Openreach, not OpenReach you diddy.

    3. Oi Oi Oi says:

      Thanks for bringing your amazing intelligence to the conversation all the way from Scotland using words such as ‘diddy’? Whatever that means to a non-drunk person?

      OpenReach are a national failure to Britain. We are 10 years behind poor countries for broadband. Even Eastern Europe has 1Gb fibre packages for SUB £8. Here in the UK when BT can be “BOTHERED” (because it costs “too much” for them to get out of bed) it costs £60.

      An absolute rip off from a company abusing its position every single day of the year. This company is holding back Britain from succeeding in the digital economy.

      Here’s an example how the British are being RIPPED OFF by BT.

      TENNET BROADBAND ROMANIA… 1000Mb Download on FTTP = 45 RON = 7.84 GBP

      https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ro&u=https://www.tennet.ro/&prev=search&pto=aue

    4. CarlT says:

      You okay, hun?

    5. New_Londoner says:

      @Oi Oi Oi
      Oggy is right that it is Openreach and not OpenReach, even though there are a surprising number of posters on here using the latter for no apparent reason.

      Looking at the rest of your post, it seems you are referring to BT anyway as you cannot buy a consumer broadband service from Openreach. Doing price comparisons with other countries is always difficult, partly because local circumstances are different and partly because you need to adjust the prices to allow for differences in the cost of living – look up purchasing power parity for more information on the latter.

      Aside from that, if you believe that £60 per month for a 1Gbps service is a “rip off”, presumably you also believe that the various altnets that charge that much or more (some but not all charge less) on their non-Openreach infrastructure are also part of the conspiracy to overcharge the UK public?

    6. Oggy says:

      Poor RN/Oi Oi Oi.

      I obviously hurt their feelings.

      I’ll send them a candygram to make up for it.

    7. RN says:

      All of you lot clearly work for the Openreach propaganda department.

      Who CARES if BT or Openreach supply the broadband. I order leased lines from BOTH companies. It’s still an absolute rip off.

      You won’t tolerate a bad word said about the company when it is acting deplorably and letting down MILLIONS of households in Britain. Sorry but try thinking of families on sub-acceptable “broadband” (narrowband) products rather than your own BT/Openreach salary and pension pot or BT share price.

      Completely ignoring the facts as usual about 1Gb being £8 (yes “eight pounds”) elsewhere in Europe.

      “… if you believe that £60 per month for a 1Gbps service is a “rip off”…”

      YES INDEED it IS a scandalous rip off for 900/100 when AltNets are in the £40 area for 900/900 symmetrical. And if you read the BT site they only say 450 is what you’re guaranteed.

      So it’s another marketing dupe selling 450/100 Meg BT broadband as 900 Meg? So they should charge £35 accordingly and certainly not £60.

      For every AltNet connection it means more profit denied to BT/Openreach hooray I’ll drink to each and every new AltNet connection then…

  4. RN says:

    @ New_Londoner

    Just like FTTC, we, the taxpayers are paying BT Openreach BILLIONS for THEIR own infrastructure upgrades which THEY will profit from for decades ADDING on top of that we are paying extortionate prices for FTTP infrastructure deployment as BT/Openreach are being abusive and intimidating competitors from bidding against this work so funnily enough they are the only remaining bidders?

    This is a tactic you’d expect from Russian companies not from British.

    I object to “donating” BILLIONS to BT then being “FLEECED” to get the product at extortionate prices, that we, the very same taxpayers funded them to install.

    Why do you not understand this? They CANNOT have it both ways (but they actually DO!)

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