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Fresh Broadband Delays Hit Gigaclear’s Herefordshire UK Rollout

Sunday, October 10th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 2,568

The Fastershire project has revealed that UK ISP Gigaclear’s rollout of a new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network in Herefordshire is suffering from “delivery challenges,” which without “significant additional resources” could make it difficult to reach up to 2,324 of the planned premises.

Regular readers will recall that most of Gigaclear’s state aid supported contracts under the Building Digital UK (BDUK) framework ran into problems with significant delays a couple of years back (e.g. some builds were set back by up to around 2 years), which among other things resulted in the collapse of one of their largest contracts in Devon and Somerset. The operator’s complementary commercial build also suffered.

By comparison, the Fastershire contract, which was similarly disrupted, opted to stick with the provider and last year completed a revision of their contract (here). At the time Fastershire, which also covers Gloucestershire and had initially planned to cover more than 70,000 premises (inclusive of their commercial build), said that the ISP would now reach for an expanded target of 110,000 premises across both counties by September 2022.

At present Gigaclear has already connected nearly 8,931 rural properties in Herefordshire to their full fibre network but, as a result of the aforementioned “challenges“, Fastershire are now warning that up to 2,324 of the planned premises are currently under commercial review in the county.

Statement from Herefordshire Council:

“Whilst we recognise the contribution Gigaclear has made in meeting the ambitions of Herefordshire in having some of the fastest broadband in the country, we are incredibly disappointed that we now have premises under review. Our priority continues to be finding a solution for those communities including engaging with national government.”

Gareth Williams, CEO of Gigaclear, said:

“We sympathise with the impacted communities in Herefordshire and understand that the continued delays are very disappointing. However, we are still working collaboratively with Fastershire to find a solution for those areas. Some of the premises in these areas are the most difficult to connect because there is very little existing infrastructure, the properties are geographically scattered and recent changes to the regulatory environment have damaged the investment case to connect these areas.

We are grateful to the local authority for giving us the opportunity to be part of their broadband programme, and we will continue to explore how we can connect the communities affected.”

The news, which is sure to frustrate those living in the affected areas, is also somewhat embarrassing for Gigaclear, particularly after they appeared to have turned a corner over the past year and were starting to see a strong increase in deployment pace again.

At the same time, it’s also another reminder of just how challenging it can be to build FTTP into rural locations, particularly the most remote communities, where per premises build costs can easily rise above expectations. We’re currently also trying to find out exactly which “recent changes to the regulatory environment have damaged the investment case to connect these areas.”

The following network sections, which cover quite a wide geographic area (see Gigaclear’s project page), are now under commercial review. We suspect that these areas, if not reached by another operator (commercially), may have to wait for a new contract to be signed as part of the Government’s new £5bn Project Gigabit programme.

The Under Review Sections
Whitchurch, Herefordshire
Llangrove, Herefordshire
Peterchurch, Herefordshire
Kings Thorn, Herefordshire
Broad Oak, Herefordshire
Ewyas Harold, Herefordshire
Pen-pwll-sond, Herefordshire
Fording Lane Herefordshire
St Margarets, Herefordshire
Callow, Herefordshire
Hinton, Herefordshire
Church Road Herefordshire
Orcop, Herefordshire
Wormbridge, Herefordshire
Glebe Orchard, including some Herefordshire premises
Aston Ingham including some Herefordshire premises
Dymock, including some Herefordshire premises

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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.
Leave a Comment
14 Responses
  1. Regulatory changes my a$$ says:

    too busy building in commercial areas trying to keep up with the big boys, hope herefordshire council penalise them, blaming it on regulatory changes when they are busy building in commercial areas, they have plenty of resource they could divert.

  2. NE555 says:

    Can you clarify please. Are these 2,324 properties part of the state-funded rollout, which Gigaclear have *contracted* with Fastershire to provide service to?

    Or are they part of a nearby commercial (unfunded) rollout, and Gigaclear have now changed their mind as to their commercial viability?

    1. AnotherTim says:

      I believe they are gap-funded properties – that Gigaclear has now decided are not viable even with the gap funding from Fastershire. Their commercial builds in towns and villages which already have FTTC now seem to be their priority.
      I am somewhat surprised that Fastershire don’t seem to have been monitoring progress for the contracts they have awarded. Changes in some of the Gloucestershire build areas seem to have surprised Fastershire too.

    2. NE555 says:

      Sounds like the “contract” said: “we’d like you to build to these properties please. If you do, we’ll pay you £X. But if you don’t, it doesn’t matter, as there’s no penalty”

  3. Gary says:

    At least up here R100 gets me a voucher, a pointless makes no impact voucher but a voucher none the less.

  4. John says:

    We signed up to gigaclear a few months ago and have had more outages than the previous 10 years of adsl broadband… When my contracts up I’ll be switching back to adsl unless things drastically improve. Also there support service is non existant, logged 4 support issues and not one of them has been responded to… Joke of a company just skimming tax payers money like all the reat!

  5. DAVE WILLIAMS says:


  6. The Facts says:

    ‘Some of the premises in these areas are the most difficult to connect because there is very little existing infrastructure, the properties are geographically scattered’

    That’s why you were awarded the contract…

  7. Alex says:

    Porject Gigabit will go the same way if it’s awarded to the altnet brigade…

  8. Zane says:

    Got excited and thought it said Hertfordshire. Oh well.

    1. DaveIsRight says:

      I live in a small village bordering Hertfordshire which is in Buckinghamshire but there is no mention of it being on any plans for any provider anywhere. I think I can get FttPoD but at a sizeable cost. I get tired of reading all these myriad announcements of availability only to realise it’s another case of overbuilding. I get it’s a business and I get it’s not profitable but it’s no less frustrating.

  9. AnotherTim says:

    This is a shocking development. When the Fastershire BDUK contract was awarded to Gigaclear the build was supposed to be finished by the end of 2018. We’re now near the end of 2021 and not only have they not started a significant number of build areas, they are now likely to abandon them entirely

    1. New_Londoner says:

      You’re right of course about the repeated missed deadlines. Hopefully the local authorities are reviewing the contract terms with a view to pursuing Gigaclear for what appear to be numerous, continuing breaches.

      As one of our regular posters has often said in the past, JFDI!

  10. John says:

    I am in one of the affected areas. The address checker, before the recent announcement, said that it was part of the Gigaclear commercial build so I am not sure whether any state funding would have been involved. Regardless of that, I presume that Gigaclear’s previous intention to provide the service to these areas was a factor in the misguided decision to stick with Gigaclear, rather than sack them, when they failed to deliver according to the original contract. I suspect that Fastershire have been duped by Gigaclear.

    It seems like Gigaclear provides a pretty poor service so, on the assumption that a solution is eventually found for the affected areas, an upside might be that it will not involve them.

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