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New ISP Brillband Preps Launch of App-Based FTTP Broadband

Thursday, May 5th, 2022 (4:17 pm) - Score 6,024
Brillband-app-based-broadband-logo

A new UK ISP called Brillband has today soft-launched itself by proclaiming to be the “world’s first … app-based broadband provider,” which is said to have the “potential to completely change the way broadband is delivered” and is being backed by an initial investment of £660,000 from VC firm Fuel Ventures.

The press announcement itself is an interesting collection of ambitious statements and sound bites, albeit ones that often seem to conflate the benefits of their new mobile (or tablet) app with that of actual service provision. As a result, we had to spend some time trying to decode what it was actually announcing.

However, in reading between the lines, Brillband appears to be a CityFibre based ISP (they may extend to other networks in the future) that will sell gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband packages. The first locations to benefit from this – as part of their Alpha phase launch – will be Glasgow and Renfrewshire in Scotland from July 2022.

The “state-of-the-art” service is said to be the brainchild of entrepreneur and Brillband CEO, Duncan Di Biase, who has “set out to disrupt the sector” after becoming “infuriated by substandard services offered by major broadband players ‘focused more on profit than the people using them’.” Fair enough. But what does being an app-based provider actually mean?

Key Quotes from Brillband’s Announcement

➤ The provider will enable users to run their entire broadband service from their mobile phone or tablet device, with native consumer-centric features including 1GB speeds [we’re sure they mean 1Gbps, not GigaBytes] with no entry price points; up-to-the-minute network diagnostics and updates via push notifications; built in security features including malware detection; and round-the-clock access to local customer service teams all at customers’ fingertips.

➤ The patent-pending software technology uses the direct connection between the provider and customer to enable the service to build individual usage profiles which automatically optimise the service according to how it’s used, for example for gaming, streaming, working from home or downloading content.

➤ £3 million-valued Brillband’s world-first technology – which Di Biase describes as the firm’s secret sauce – has been developed by some of the brightest brains in broadband, including Chief Technology Officer Justin Fielder, a former Sky Network Director whose successes include building Sky Broadband.

➤ Brillband – which will be initially rolled out to a test group of app and network customers across Glasgow and Renfrewshire later this year – aims to have 10,000 customers and a team of 20 by the end of 2023, rising to 40,000 customers by the end of 2024. Di Biase estimates the firm will have 120,000 customers by 2025.

Overall, it sounds quite interesting, although at the time of writing their website is still just a holding page with no current package or price details, which makes it difficult to judge. The app itself also sounds like a fairly extensive management and support tool for the broadband connection, and we’re currently trying to find out precisely what they mean by automatic “optimisations” above – details matter when talking about such things.

Speaking of price, there’s some general talk about “providing a flat fee for all customers receiving the same high-speed service” (this is also expressed as having “no tiered pricing structure“), which doesn’t tell us much, but it could suggest that they may only offer a single 1Gbps package. The ISP states that they’re aiming to “make broadband more affordable” and there’s a desire to have “no entry price points” (i.e. sounds like a free setup, which is not uncommon).

Di Biase said:

“Connectivity is one of the most important commodities in our lives yet too many people have accepted substandard service from existing providers that aren’t set up to meet their needs. People pay exorbitant fees for speeds they don’t receive, and it amazes me that nobody seems to question it.

They wouldn’t accept it from any other service, so why should they put up with it for their broadband? I was sick of endless calls to customer service lines, frequent dropouts, speeds that don’t represent what’s being paid for usually at rates far in excess of what new customers receive. I just thought – there must be a better way.

Brillband’s technology is what sets us apart. To our knowledge it’s a world-first – nobody else has it or can copy it – and its beauty lies in its simplicity. It removes the obstacles that so many people associate with broadband providers, but it’s only there when people need it.”

We’re not currently sure how much of a selling point it is to promote a fixed broadband ISP as being “app-based“. Most consumers just want an affordable, reliable and fast broadband connection, which does its job without you ever needing to think about it much. Furthermore, many ISPs already offer management apps, but it is true to say that most of these are quite limited in their scope and capabilities – some even split their features across multiple apps (super.. annoying).

However, Brillband’s CTO, Justin Fielder, does make an interesting point: “Before Uber, nobody thought they needed to see their vehicle coming – now they can’t do without it; before Starling or Monzo, nobody knew they needed to track transactions, now it’s a staple of banking; and before Brillband, nobody knew they needed to control their broadband use in this way – they won’t be able to do without it.”

As ever, the proof will be in the final product. The biggest challenge for Brillband though will be in the fact that they’re entering an already crowded and aggressively competitive market, which has a history of making life very difficult for start-ups that harbour bold targets for customer growth. We wish them well in what is sure to be a difficult climb, just as it is for all ISPs today.

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Mark-Jackson
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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Comments
12 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Mike says:

    “automatically optimise the service according to how it’s used”

    DPI?

  2. Avatar photo The Angry Scott says:

    Sounds like it’s just a TR-069 platform connected to an app. It’s not really a huge technical advance. Just a gimmick. Glasgow already has extensive FTTP coverage so again also pretty pointless. Guess it’s a bandwagon thing.

  3. Avatar photo Phil says:

    “Disrupt the sector” typical marketing speak that means nothing. Sounds like they are just chasing after Cuckoo who is doing the same thing, sell someone else’s product and just do all the admin and loads of PR spin.

    People don’t need an app on their phone for broadband or to constantly receive notifications like “We see you are gaming, pay £9.99 for an hours worth of optimisation and get an advantage and win.”

    If they were an actual ISP with their own network I’d have more hope they would be able to add something extra, but they have just signed up with CityFibre’s wholesale white label product, and are just doing an App to help with billing. Hardly disrupting anything.

    1. Avatar photo Mike says:

      I prefer the silent GCHQ spy mode.

  4. Avatar photo HR2Res says:

    As Deborah Meaden might say, a review of the patent application might be illuminating.

    1. Avatar photo Jon says:

      Any time the terms “disrupt the sector” and “patent pending” are used in the same press release, you can pretty much bet it will all turn out to be vapourware marketing nonsense and nothing more.

      This sounds like a privacy and net-neutrality nightmare that is likely to achieve little more than a flash in the pan which happens to conveniently relieve investors of their cash.

      I’d love to be proved wrong though.

  5. Avatar photo Phil says:

    So it automatically optimises:

    “for example for gaming, streaming, working from home or downloading content”

    Isn’t that something that should be a given, you just want it all to work as fast as possible up to the speed you paid for, if it has to be optimised then it means it wasn’t by default, why?

    So lets guess on calling because of a problem it will be support saying “Sorry it all seems a bit slow, please allow 14 days for our app to optimise it for you as it needs a training period”. After 14 days when you call back still with problems, “Please uninstall the app from your mobile and download our new version of the app and allow 14 days for it to optimise your speeds using our industry disruptive all new AI”.

  6. Avatar photo symptom says:

    Is it anything like we give you 10 DL/1 UL at no cost and you pay when upgrade be it on a hour or daily basis to 900 DL/900 UL with payment using our app.

  7. Avatar photo High Lander says:

    BrillBand vs BrawBand. I can see a case for m’learned friends here. Especially as they’re launching in Glasgow.

  8. Avatar photo An Engineer says:

    Justin Fielder is a smart and wealthy man with decades of experience in senior management with ISPs. I suspect he’s far more successful than any of us.

    That said I haven’t a clue what these guys are actually selling. Apparently it uses ‘the latest SDN technologies’ which gives some clues however I’m not sure how these can deliver a better service than an uncongested path without a ton of work.

    To do SDN properly, and per application, needs end to end control of an overlay network in both directions. It’s not impossible but needs specific CPE and layer 7 aware hardware at the other edge.

    Each customer needs at least one underlay final to an edge, ideally a tunnel each to multiple edges, potentially multiple overlays running on each underlay, and may pass up to a gigabit of throughput on FTTP. All that needing DPI to classify traffic.

    To offer customers optimal routing to a destination you need telemetry to that destination so that you can select the best edge and send customer traffic through it.

    So you need multiple application aware VPN concentrators collecting extensive on-net and off-net telemetry to optimise bandwidth management and routing. You’re basically building an enterprise SD-WAN and selling it to customers as an ISP.

    I had thought about this but it gets really expensive really fast. I’m very interested in what these guys are actually doing and will try and find out.

  9. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

    Before Uber people thought Taxi services needed to make a profit to survive.

  10. Avatar photo MilesT says:

    Many customers conflate WiFi with internet, and therefore some performance issues are reported as “internet is slow/unavailable” when it is really the WiFi/router equipment that is slow (misconfigured, conflicting channels, 2.4ghz partially/completely shut which affects older devices and the cheaper Roku streaming devices) etc.

    A decent router in the home (easily controllable by an app, ideally with battery backup to support always available WiFi calling) and customer specific traffic shaping etc. (again transparent in an app and easily controllable by an app) could be an interesting proposition, as would be a constantly fair price (no need to call retentions every 12-24 months to get reset to new customer price/having to change providers).

    Preusmably no bundled or add on VoIP (landline replacement) capability or call package as part of the offer, or a 4G/5G fallback capability

    I personally get a level of service transparency because I a free samknows monitoring box.

Comments are closed

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