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Rival Fibre ISPs Gigaclear and Swish Fibre Both Go Live in Thame

Wednesday, Dec 15th, 2021 (11:14 am) - Score 2,064
Swish Fibre Engineer Outside Van

Smaller UK alternative network ISPs are increasingly starting to butt heads in some of the same areas. The latest example comes from the small market town of Thame in Oxfordshire (England), where Swish Fibre and Gigaclear have both started to go live with a new full fibre broadband network, within days of each other.

Both providers began to physically rollout their respective Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) networks in Thame earlier this year, with Gigaclear committing to cover 6,185 premises by early 2022 (Thame is home to a local population of around 12,000). Prior to that, Airband had already deployed some FTTP across the same town (here) and Openreach expect to follow in the not-too-distant future.

The situation is excellent news for locals, many of which will soon be able to enjoy a choice of four gigabit-capable broadband networks. But it does raise a question mark over the long-term viability of having that many full fibre networks inside such a small community, which is a picture that we’re starting to see replicated in other towns around the UK. This tends to push up the investment risk for those who hold the purse strings.

The Government’s original Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) suggested that dense urban areas (e.g. cities) should be able to support three or more gigabit rivals, but extending that model to smaller towns is quite a stretch. Two networks is a possibility, but four.. only time will tell how that pans out. A wave of consolidation is often expected from all this, but as an asset even fibre may lose some of its value in such areas.

Nick Rawlings, Chief Marketing Officer at Gigaclear, said:

“We’re delighted to have connected our first customer in Thame to our ultrafast broadband. Having already welcomed customers in Haddenham, it’s great to see that we can now welcome even more customers to our network in Thame.”

Alistair Goulden, Swish Fibre co-Founder and Oxfordshire Resident, said:

“As a resident of Watlington in South Oxfordshire for over 20 years, I’m particularly delighted to be bringing our future-proofed 10,000Mbps capable Full Fibre Broadband to Thame and also Chinnor in the not too distant future.

Whenever we go live in a new town it’s always so special but there is an extra bit of magic in this one for me. My children went to Lord Williams School in Thame and as a family we’re very much immersed in the community. Full Fibre is an enabler and it’s an honour for all at Swish to continue to drive both social and economic growth in towns that have been previously thought to be left behind.”

In terms of prices, we’ll look at the top 1Gbps class package from each provider. At present, Gigaclear sells 900Mbps (symmetric) for £79 per month – currently discounted to £49 for the first 18-month term – and gives free installation. By comparison, Swish charges £75 per month and a £50 one-off activation fee for the same service. Airband has a similar price of £75 for the tier, albeit with slower uploads of 200Mbps and free installation.

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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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11 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Grrrr says:

    And in not too distant Berkhamsted with a similarly wealthy population, mostly dense terraced housing we have zero planned buildout including OR.

    1. Avatar photo GMorris says:

      Presumably it is FOMO You need to start some rumours to get them flocking.

    2. Avatar photo Grrr says:

      Yeah. I did get moderately hopeful when I saw a handful of Hey! Broadband vans, but figure it’s just a chap working in Hemel Hempstead (4 current fibre roll-outs) who lives locally.

      Maybe time to buy a shell company for £50, name it Berko broadband and get a news story on here.

  2. Avatar photo JS says:

    Interesting, Swish seem to be building in the same town as everyone.. heard they are trying to overbuild Trooli as well. Investors must have a lot of “spare cash” to deploy …
    Wait until Openreach turn up and they are all in a pickle!

  3. Avatar photo PassingMeBy says:

    No one seems to want to touch Luton either. Stuck with either openreach FTTC packs from various isp’s or virgin who made a hash of my service last time the barge pole hasn’t been invented to push me back to them.

    1. Avatar photo Dave Jones says:

      I thought Luton was on the Fttp roll out with Openreach.

    2. Avatar photo David says:

      CityFibre are rolling out in Luton too!

  4. Avatar photo David Jones says:

    GigaClear have a crazy backhawl and can’t support all there customers.y friend also had GigaClear and they wouldn’t repair the work because it cost to much, it took him 8 months to get out of the contract as they kept charging him. I went with BT in the end and haven’t had a problem since. 900mb consistently.

  5. Avatar photo J Austin says:

    I live in Thame and the biggest complain many locals have is the lack of warning from these businesses of the disruption from the works. I understand they are rivals, but when one company digs up a road, lays a duct then makes good, only for the rival to dig it all up again and lay a duct directly next to the first one. Either lay two ducts or coordinate who’s going to build out the ducting on each street. It would save everyone money and reduce the disruption.

    1. Avatar photo cheesemp says:

      Nah – They’d rather play secret squirrels than share what they do with a competitor. (Got to chase the same customers in secret rather than lay in new areas without FTTP!)

    2. Avatar photo DC says:

      Bewildering, isn’t it? The mess their contractors have made in Thame and the nearby village of Long Crendon has deterred me from ever signing up to Gigaclear or Swish Fibre. It’s been months of disruption and poor workmanship.

      I would suggest Alistair Goulden takes a trip around Thame to see what the situation is like. Failing that, peruse some of the local Facebook groups for people’s comments and reactions. That “extra bit of magic” will soon vanish.

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