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Complete Utilities Flops and Disrupts Gigaclear’s UK FTTP Rollout

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021 (3:56 pm) - Score 9,096
gigaclear narrow trenching uk fttp broadband

Civil engineering firm Complete Utilities, which has been working with UK ISP Gigaclear to help build gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband networks, has suddenly ceased trading, casting doubt on existing projects. Another street works firm, NMCN, also recently went into administration – hampering CityFibre.

One of Complete Utilities biggest clients was Gigaclear, which back in 2017 announced that they’d signed a £90m contract with the civil engineering firm in order to support their rollout of full fibre services to 70,000 homes across rural parts of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire (here) – partly related to the state aid supported Fastershire project.

NOTE: Complete Utilities recent end of year results highlighted a collapse of operating profits from £2.37m to £528,543, which was “mainly due to the COVID-19 outbreak, although the completion of certain contracts has incurred additions costs.”

Gigaclear’s rollout in the area is known to have suffered a number of delays since then, including one that was revealed last month after the ISP scaled-back their rollout plan for the region (here). However, it’s not known whether the situation with Complete Utilities had anything to do with that.

At the time of writing, we’re still trying to establish the facts around this situation, although the Fastershire project has issued the following statement.

Fastershire Statement

We have been informed that one of Gigaclear’s contractors, Complete Utilities Limited, have ceased trading with immediate effect. Gigaclear are actively working to understand and manage the consequences that this news will have on their builds in the Fastershire region.

As a council project, Fastershire’s first thoughts are for the employees of Complete Utilities. A Gloucestershire based company, Complete Utilities have done a great deal of work on the ground to support the counties of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire to have some of the fastest broadband in the country.

Gigaclear have assured Fastershire that their immediate priority has been to ensure that any live sites are made safe and they are working to transfer outstanding commitments to one of their other contractors who are already operating in our region.

Fastershire and Gigaclear will endeavour to provide regular updates with this process and will work hard to minimise any delays in the current delivery programme.

Some sources have indicated to ISPreview.co.uk that another contractor, which could be Avonline Networks (unconfirmed), may be considering whether or not to step in as a rescue contractor for Gigaclear’s build in the region. In the meantime, we note that the website for Complete Utilities has vanished, along with much of their social media presence.

A Spokesperson for Gigaclear told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We were notified on Sunday 31 October 2021 that Complete Utilities Ltd, one of our partners working with us to deliver ultrafast broadband across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, were to cease trading with immediate effect.

Complete Utilities Ltd have been good partners to us in the region since the start of our activity in 2015 and were still under contract with Gigaclear for existing and a future pipeline of work. We are assessing the impact and are in the process of transferring commitments to other contractors in the region. We have begun communicating to stakeholders and residents.”

However, Complete Utilities aren’t the only full fibre linked civil engineering firm to hit troubled times over the past month. Another operator, NMCN, recently called in the administrators after a £24m refinancing deal, led by private investment firm Svella, failed because of the company’s failure to sign off its audited accounts.

NMCN’s telecommunications business was promptly sold to Svella CO2 Limited, while Keltbray Highways Limited picked up their Infrastructure Business. CityFibre previously picked NMCN to conduct their £23m FTTP broadband rollout across the large West Yorkshire (England) town of Halifax (here), as well as for a similar £32m rollout in the South Yorkshire (England) town of Barnsley (here).

We have contacted CityFibre in the hope of finding out how this has impacted their plans.

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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. Nicholas Ashfield says:

    That now makes sense.

    Phoned Gigaclear at 3pm this afternoon asking for an update of when the build is likely to start for my village. The call attendant advised that she didn’t know. I said I would therefore contact Complete Utilities for an update since Fastershire advised in March 2021 that Complete Utilities would be responsible for the build. The Call Attendant said she was certain that Complete Utilities was no longer involved in the project. At the time I thought it was an odd comment but didn’t question it. But now it makes sense.

  2. Dave says:

    If only everybody was made aware of the shambles, this industry is descending into.. Its hard to believe the lack of professional integrity.
    £££££ at any cost

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      That’s what you get when the lowest bid gets the contract, they end up doing it hoping it’ll make extra through small additional works. When they are forced to stick to the contract they end up making no money, that’s why they go bankrupt overnight.

      I wish councils would realise that the cheapest isn’t always the best for the job. Some things never change.

  3. Glenton says:

    Company that has been run by cowboys and has lost all integrity with its actions In recent days. I’m led to believe not a single member of staff has been informed of what is going on within the company’s fold. Utter shambles from those running this business.

    1. Joebloggs says:

      Yeah surely must of been but how many of the directors do you think will leave the sinking ship with nothing, or do we believe ——– will still have the 3 horses just built in Staunton, the bungalow in Staunton oh and let’s not forget the Prince of wales in Staunton too plus I bet he keeps Bubbs old farm in Maismore don’t you think??

  4. Jonathan says:

    From a firm that had the gaul to sue over not getting Lot1 of the R100 program in Scotland. Total bunch of shysters

  5. Joebloggs says:

    Do you believe the ceo will lose any if the afore mentioned things he owns locally to where he lives Johnathan? But I bet he couldn’t give a damn about where all his employees he’s been paying big bucks to are gonna get their mortgage and car payments now, just so long as ——– makes out ok the rest can go whistle

  6. Ian Williams says:

    Gigacrap is quite simply the worst ISP in the UK. They have the monopoly in my village, but refuse to connect most villagers -even those of us who have been begging them for more than 2 years.

    They dig up our roads and residents driveways without permission. They won’t even connect a neighbour who has Gigacraps exchange cabinet in their garden.

    Avoid this ISP at all costs.

  7. Dougie says:

    Gangers saying they hit a expensive fibre and the claim wiped them out, could be £20M damages

  8. Somebody, anybody. says:

    Gigadear is what the firm should be called, with no competition except BT copper wire, Gigadear prices are far too high, they’ve started offering a fair price for 18 months, then £49.00 a month thereafter, and with no competition you’d have to pay it or go back to BT, what a choice, what happened to the AFFORDABLE high speed broadband the government said everyone would get??

  9. AnotherTim says:

    This will only make Fastershire’s delays worse. I expect more build areas to be delayed or cancelled – although as they don’t give updates, it is hard to know about delays other than the previously promised dates being in the past.

  10. Dave says:

    And so the cycle continues.. Managment will move onto similar contracts, for another provider. Failure is disregarded because everybody is desperate to fill seats. Gigacrap will look for new suppliers at a reduced price. More unqualified staff will be promoted into the vacant seats, left by the “Failures” in transit. In a few years, these newly enlisted incompetents will make the same mistakes and sign-up for a contract that they’re unable to fulfill. The ISPs own the majority share in this debacle. The people that suffer most are the guys on the ground. Fact is that they are the only ones qualified in the task they undertake. With clowns running the show, the industry is doomed 😉

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Speak out if you disagree, but it seems like a prime opportunity to set up a company, put out stupid bids for contracts, take the money, then when it can’t deliver simply declare the company insolvent, close it and then a day later open a phoenix company (which is essentially offering the same services as the first) with another pre-registered companies house title all ready to go, to me.

      The directors will no doubt leave the smouldering rubble very well rewarded to pass the torch to their friend/relative on the new company papers, whereas the people actually getting their hands dirty and doing the job will be left high an dry.

  11. Andrew says:

    As I write, I’m waiting for Avonline to take over the build for Gigaclear. There’s a trench running across my drive, awaiting the very long overdue fibre install. Interestingly, Openreach installed fttp in the village 2 years ago, using microtrenching, and aerial drops..bishbashbosh.
    The whole village feel aggrieved on behalf of the always helpful and polite orange-clad coalface chaps…perhaps Avonline could take them on.

  12. Ginge says:

    This “Making False Promises” lark, goes all the way to the top. How many times have the Politicians promised to deliver “Nationwide Broadband”? It’s been on all the manifestos for a while now. Pretty sharp, coming from people that would not know how to make it happen, let alone how long it would take and how costly it might be.

    I’m not sure any of them really want to deliver on their promises. They will always have somebody else to point the finger at..

    “We have been informed that one of Gigaclear’s contractors, Complete Utilities Limited, have ceased trading with immediate effect. Gigaclear are actively working to understand and manage the consequences…..”


    Thank Goodness for Gigacrap.. They’re going to work really hard to recover the situation, the creation of which they are no less responsible.

    They will have cajoled City Utilities to take-up the contract with little, or no, intention of helping them understand the magnitude of the task.

    The smaller companies are blinded by the promise of hugely profitable contracts and lured into arenas where they have less than adequate experience. “Some” do it naively, with sincere intentions. Others, with different ethics, will be in and out, taking as much as they can get away with.

    The only honesty comes from the people at the coal face. They will suffer the worst, although there are plenty of other companies “Having a go”. Hopefully the workers will find something quickly.

    1. A_Builder says:

      There are plenty of ‘opportunities’ in construction.

      Do be aware that cost inflation in construction is massive.

      Some trades are +25% Y/Y.

      Some Materials are +200%.

      Easy to go bust if you are on a fixed price contract with your margins taken from you.

  13. Andy says:

    Gigaclear laid the fibre on the lane behind our house was laid 18 months ago, they started at the top of our lane in Jan but still haven’t linked the two up – there’s been 200m outstanding for size months now

    Neither Fastershire or Gigaclear actually proactively communicate, only way to find out what’s going on is look at Glos Highways map

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