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Grain Extending Full Fibre Broadband to Homes in Leicester UK

Monday, Sep 13th, 2021 (1:23 pm) - Score 1,632
Graint Connect fttp build picture by Craig-Sansam

UK ISP Grain has today announced that their ongoing rollout of a new gigabit speed Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband network is being extended to include an unspecified number of homes in the city of Leicester (Leicestershire, England), which has a population of around 360,000.

The provider, which was recently boosted by a £75m equity investment from Equitix (here), ultimately aims to cover 300,000 UK premises. As part of that they’re already expanding their network across parts of Liverpool, Accrington, Grimsby, Scarborough, Carlisle, Barrow-in-Furness and Blackburn, among others.

NOTE: Grain’s UK rollout aims to be delivered over the next 5-years (i.e. by 2026).

The latest city to join this list is Leicestershire. Some of the first streets to be connected will include those around Narborough Road, Paton Street and Eastleigh Road, with further expansion happening across town between Poole Road and Beatrice Road. Many more will follow.

New customers can expect to pay from just £14.99 per month for a symmetric speed 50Mbps package, which goes up to £44.99 for their top 900Mbps plan. All of these packages come with an 12-month minimum contract term, free installation and a router. Suffice to say that the goal of such aggressive pricing is often to attract rapid take-up.

Tracy Karam, Head of Customer Experience for Grain, said:

“The response from residents and businesses has been very positive, with many already signing up to the service before work on their street has even been completed.

Our service has become even more popular in recent months, as customers rely more and more on fast, reliable and secure network for working, learning, gaming, and entertainment. We are pleased to be rolling out our offer prices to the residents of Leicester, allowing them to access true full-fibre at unbeatable prices.”

The challenge here is that Leicester is already home to several gigabit-capable broadband network rivals. For example, Virgin Media already covers the vast majority of the city, while there’s a growing array of FTTP deployments from Openreach, CityFibre, Hyperoptic, OFNL and Fibrehop (Triangle Networks). Glide also has some coverage in the city, but we’re not sure how much of it is FTTP vs SLU FTTC.

Suffice to say, Leicester looks set to become an aggressively competitive market, and we’re thus a little surprised that Grain would choose it as one of their first deployments.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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12 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Zakir says:

    Around 90% in Sweden have Fibre.

    Puts UK way back I live in London this day and age no Fibre still in my Housing Association flat I live in should of expected 80% of Londoners have access to Fibre by now.

    Fibre and 5G roll out slow but we will get there eventually.

    China are insane they are looking at 6G launch by 2030 it was a bad idea baning Huawei.

    1. Avatar photo occasionally factual says:

      From the article published last week about Sweden –

      1. Started building fibre optic networks way back in the late 1990s;
      2. 81% of Sweden now has access to a full fibre network;
      3. 60% of homes in Sweden have connected to the full fibre service;

      Facts about population and households

      1. Population is 10,416,585 as of July 2021
      2. Number of households 4.8m as for May 2020

      So 20 plus years of FTTP build and the number of premises passed is 3.6m.

      Currently the UK total is 5,000,385 premises for Openreach FTTP alone with Virgin covering 10m for their coax and FTTP networks. Others networks add about 1m premises. So the UK has well in excess of the Swedish numbers already and plans to build out over the decade to reach 27 million premises (ignoring all over builds). Not bad.

  2. Avatar photo Zak says:

    Uk still way behind sweden population is way less then UK

  3. Avatar photo Jamie Simms says:

    Not surprised at all they have chosen Leicester as Openreach have enabled very little FTTP around here other than new build. Virgin Media turned on their Gig1 service last week however due to capacity issues is not available in lots of their network area.

    CityFibre have been very aggressive installing their network around Leicester however they are now having issues connecting it to their core network the teams digging the trenches and doing all the local work are covering so many areas but the teams doing the core work cannot keep up leading to delays in getting it all connected up.

    1. Avatar photo ChrisC says:

      VM capacity issues wouldnt surprise me, so many times they switch on upgrade in the city without doing the required docsis upgrades.

      giga1 is available for me on the checker, but not sure I want to commit when all I have had on VM is congestion misery in the past. docsis gigabit cannot be compared to FTTP. Not to mention its dynamic single stacked ipv4 only.

    2. Avatar photo ChrisC says:

      Also am not surprised they got issues connecting the backhaul, the rollout has a strange pathway.

      For starters all the inner parts of the city already are close to fibre, my street has fibre already on it, but instead of starting in these areas on the consumer rollout, they doing it by exchange areas, and going out to outer parts of the city before the inner parts are done, this is a backwards approach when it comes to connecting backhaul which will be coming from the city centre. Dont know if this is because the council have asked for it to be done this way or its because cityfibre have some kind of commercial motivation to do it this way.

  4. Avatar photo Pete V-W says:

    I received a leaflet through my letterbox a few weeks ago in August, they’re already digging some streets. I called because I was excited to have full fiber to my house and symmetrical speeds to boot, at an attractive price.

    I have two servers running at home controlling all sorts of IoT devices, so I need IPv4 and to be able to port-forward into my reverse proxy which then passes data to each service I host on Docker, each taking care of something but all integrated to achieve the goal of home automation. Suffice to say, this is all important for the various automations to work correctly. For example, my cooker hood turns itself on and off when the induction hob is operating or shuts off. I currently use VM consumer broadband, the Hub 4 in modem mode, connected to my own router which distributes WiFi via well-positioned access points, it works really well.

    I called Grain Connect to ask about their network after doing some research and coming across existing clients stating that their router is locked down and you cannot access and change any settings, you have to call Grain and they can change settings remotely for you. This includes changing your SSID and WiFi password, you’d have to verbally tell them those things and they’d remotely access your router and change them but you cannot do it yourself. They said they’re looking into relaxing the restrictions but could not give me a timeline in writing, so as good as nothing.

    I find that utterly unacceptable, and it’s clearly a security issue but not in the good sense. No doubt ISPs everywhere can remotely access their equipment but to be telling someone on their end verbally my SSID and password among other things is completely crazy. I asked why this is, they said it’s because they use CG-NAT, so you cannot even do proper port forwarding, this means my use case is out of question, with many customers sharing one IP I simply will be unable to get many of my devices and any remote access working, what is the point of full fiber with symmetrical speeds if I cannot even run my own services? This will severely affect multiplayer gaming and end-to-end VOIP. Their technical team said they would check what can be done and get back to me, then nobody did.

    Another thing I found completely cynical is how their leaflet said “if you’re still in contract with another ISP call us and we’ll see what we can do”, anyone reading this would think they could offer to pay the remaining term so you could be free to migrate, or at least give a discount so it would cover part of the leaving fees on your current ISP’s contract, but the guy I spoke to said they can’t do anything – so looks like misleading advertising, if they cannot do *anything* then that’s just a tactic to get you to call them so they can push the service onto you without fully informing you of the technical restrictions, which after perusing the T&Cs I could not find anywhere. They talk about fair use and traffic management but give no indication of when this kicks in and after how much. Just vague terms like “heavy users”. That could mean anything.

    I believe they can give business customers a static IPv4, but the prices are horrendously expensive for the business packages, so unfortunately for Grain they will never have me as a customer due to a. using disreputable marketing tactics, b. locking down their equipment and demanding changes be done over the phone, c. use of CG-NAT and d. not getting back to me as promised.

    If they could get me a public IPv4 like I get on Virgin Media and clarify in writing about their network management policies then I’d potentially consider it, as for the IP it does not have to be static, dynamic would be perfectly fine as I use Dynamic DNS to keep it updated on the DNS server, but Grain does not offer it to residential customers. Quite sad because I’ve been waiting for symmetrical full fiber to my home at a reasonable price for years now but it seems like all these companies are trying to go back to the 90s… Hopefully CityFibre will not have the same issue.

    1. Avatar photo - says:

      Really interesting to read – thanks.

      The only comment I’d make is that a public IP would normally attract a monthly cost – would you agree that’s fair?

    2. Avatar photo Pete V-W says:

      To -:
      I think you misread my comment. Most ISPs will give their customers a dynamic IPv4 as part of the package. Virgin Media who I’m currently with does that, and I am perfectly happy with a dynamic IPv4. I do not need it to be static, in fact I don’t want it, since malicious groups can target it, by resetting my router from time to time I get a fresh IP which I’m happy with, then I can use Dynamic DNS to keep it up to date for my server stuff. So no, I would not be happy with having to pay an extra for something that is industry-standard to offer as part of even a basic package and has been for decades. I have a DHCP server at home and it doesn’t cost anything to run… Grain Connect should be able to offer dynamic IPv4s for customers that need them. And of course, they also need to unlock their router. Ideally I’d like to connect the WAN port of my own router to the optical termination point and get a WAN IPv4 that way, bypassing their router entirely, as it’s better to get the address directly than using bridge mode which adds a bit of latency.

  5. Avatar photo Paul says:

    That’s massively disappointing reading about their locked down equipment. I’m in Grimsby and begrudge paying Virgin’s inflation busting hikes but if it’s that or locked down equipment I’m not going to Grain as, like you, I have equipment at home that just won’t work without port forwarding for example. Let’s hope Grain change this over time or we get another altnet.

  6. Avatar photo ChrisC says:

    I seen them on the roadworks map when checking cityfibre progress, the area they covering is a tiny part of the city just a few streets in prime student areas, albeit at least a part which has no cityfibre presence so for the people there, they will be grateful, too early to say Leicester will be competitive, Openreach still have “NO PLANS” for the city.

    The cityfibre rollout is going very slowly and original announcement had a projected 5 year rollout speed, which seems turtle pace compared to how quick openreach complete areas.

    I am 20 metres away from cityfibre coverage, but have been told at least a year before they get to me, as they did a 180 and went in the other direction. The grain coverage is my side of the city, but several streets away. So close but so far.

    Meanwhile Zen keep spamming me with “coming soon” emails, not best impressed, clearly trying to get me on their VDSL when I registered for FTTP interest not VDSL interest. When I queried Zen what “coming soon” meant, they had no clue as when they checked my address they couldnt get a date.

    1. Avatar photo ChrisC says:

      Also Mark there is no planned Openreach FTTP for Leicester so either you have made a mistake or you have insider info, curious which it is.

      Hyperoptics fibre in the city, all the other networks you mentioned are business fibre services, openreach FTTP properties in Leicester are on demand.

      So cityfibre is the only consumer FTTP been rolled out en masse, Grain is a handful of streets.

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