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Troubled UK FTTP ISP People’s Fibre Acquired by Swish Fibre UPDATE

Wednesday, December 29th, 2021 (1:39 pm) - Score 4,200
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Alternative UK broadband ISP Swish Fibre, which is being backed by Fern Trading in its plan to build a new 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP network across 250,000 premises in the Home Counties (here), has stepped in to rescue troubled provider People’s Fibre after they recently fell into administration.

As we reported last month in our extended summary (here), Essex-based People’s Fibre appears to have struggled in an aggressively competitive market and set itself some very optimistic targets for early revenue, which were not met. The company then fell into administration following a related “breakdown in the relationship” between the company’s director and investors.

According to the administrator’s report, People’s Fibre’s relatively new network had passed a total of 5,293 premises and connected just 150 of those to their service (i.e. a rapid build will almost always suppress the take-up figure, which takes a long time to grow organically). However, network coverage was expected to grow by another 1,500 premises during the administration process.

At the time of our last report we expected that consolidation – largely based upon the asset value of what had already been built – seemed likely to be the most plausible outcome of the administration process, and so it has come to pass. Unlike People’s Fibre, Swish Fibre has significant financial backing (c.£225m) from one of the fibre market’s biggest investors – Fern Trading, which has taken the decision to rescue the ailing provider for an undisclosed sum.

Brice Yharrassey, CEO of Swish Fibre, said:

“I am delighted to welcome the staff and customers of People’s Fibre to the Swish family. We have big plans to expand on the great work that the team have achieved in Essex, and very much look forward to closely supporting the business with immediate effect.”

Leo Chong, CEO of People’s Fibre, said:

“We see Swish as a great fit with the People’s Fibre team and applaud the acquisition. My team and I look forward to growing the business together with Swish in the New Year.”

Customers of People’s Fibre were informed about the decision on Christmas Eve of all days, which probably came as somewhat of a surprise, at least it would be for those who don’t read ISPreview.co.uk. Swish has since informed us that they’ve already met the People’s Fibre team, informed the customer base of the acquisition and are putting in place some “exciting plans” for 2022. But no solid details have been revealed, yet.

In other news, Swish connected their first customers in Chinnor (Oxfordshire) last week too, which is their second location in Oxfordshire after recently welcoming customers onto the network in Thame. Swish have also connected customers in Marlow, Farnham, Princes Risborough, Bourne End, Beaconsfield, Haslemere, Godalming, Gerrards Cross, Chinnor and Thame. Meanwhile, building continues in Ascot, Bagshot, Flackwell Heath, Hazlemere, Penn and Sunningdale, with more towns set to receive the service soon.

UPDATE 12th April 2022

The final administrator’s report reveals that Swish paid a total cash consideration of £2.8m for the provider.

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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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16 Responses
  1. Sam says:

    Haslemere is so close they can surely easily expand down towards Sussex

    1. Hungry Dog says:

      150 connected from 5293 properties passed is less than 3% take-up rate….little wonder the investors got cold feet.

  2. ad47uk says:

    This is what worries me if I go to an alternative network, is that they will sell up to TalkTalk or some other provider

    1. Vince says:

      Consolidation is going to happen. A lot of the altnets like Swish are funded by Venture Capital – they want to sell up and get some nice returns.

      So it isn’t a case of “if” just “when”

    2. NE555 says:

      So what? You can’t lose. The worst that can happen is that you end up on Talktalk (say); and if for some reason you don’t want this, then you go back to FTTC or ADSL or whatever you had before.

    3. ad47uk says:

      We have a company called Zzoomm building a fibre network in the city at the moment, I am still trying to understand why they choose us as the second place they build, I think they have been offered support money wise :). Anyway, the person behind Zzoomm is Matthew Hare, he started up gigaclear and then flogged it, so it makes me wonder how long he will keep hold of Zzoomm until he decides he can make more money by getting rid of it.

      Sure, as been said I can change back to FTTC, but it is a hassle to go through and that is the other reason why I am dithering about going for fibre when it eventually comes to me.

      We will see what happens and how long it takes to get up to me, my plusnet contract runs out in January, I don’t mind paying out of contract prices for a couple of months if Zzoomm starts making a move up here, suppose to be available in spring next year but from what I have seen there have been delays in getting people connected.

    4. Jonathan Lewis says:

      At least you have a viable alternative. I’m within a mile of an FttPOD network and my connection cost is estimated at £17K, and no-hope of BT extending. Our fixed line from BT manages 2.5Mb/s if you’re lucky so we’re on 4G ….

  3. Peter says:

    This won’t be the last. This will happen to multiple altnets going forwards. The same happened with the cable network back in the day.

    1. Fastman says:

      yep – OFCOM Think it will happen as well – whcih is why they issued video at inca conference about altnets trying to buld homogenous networks that can be bolted onto anothers easily

  4. Steve says:

    Have no doubt, all but the biggest names will see consolidation along the way. It’s likely the last ones left will be backed by significant names (even KCom is owned by an Australian conglomerate now), or perhaps those with a niche such as some of the fwa offerings. Without naming to start any unfounded rumours, I can see the two biggest ones joining forces before long and agreeing not to overbuild. It’s all history repeating itself. CableTel/NYNEX/Eurobell/C&W anyone?!

  5. Laurence 'GreenReaper' Parry says:

    It’s more important for most people to have a stable connection at a reasonable price. There’s also a significant inertia effect – many won’t convert until they’re pushed, even once it becomes cheaper to move than stay put.

  6. FibreBubble says:

    150 customers. This is not a business.

  7. Jason says:

    Alt nets are the worst thing to happen to the industry . Full of terrible contract companies putting in networks to a poor standard . Hopefully mor go bust so we dont end up with this patch work quilt of a country we have

    1. ad47uk says:

      i think it is a good thing, as long as they are decent, I am fed up with having only one network run by BT, and it is still BT, no matter how much they try to tell us Open reach is a separate company, competition is always good.

    2. The Facts says:

      Virgin Media cover more than 50% of properties, so not ‘just one network’ for many.

    3. ad47uk says:

      @The Facts, which leave 50% not covered by virgin. I did say a few years ago if virgin came here then I would change to them, that was until found out that having just a broadband line cost almost as much as having the full service from them and it still does, for phone and broadband it is £28, it is £29 if you include a load of TV channels, that I would never want.
      I decided to do another 18 months with Plusnet, they sent me a email offering me 18 months for £22 as a month, so I thought I may as well take, I have no idea if zzoomm will come up here by spring, they could take longer and have problems.
      i think I made the right choice for the time being, we will see what happens at the end of the 18 months.

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