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Fern Consolidates UK ISPs Jurassic Fibre, Swish Fibre, Giganet and AllPoints Fibre UPDATE2

Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2023 (4:27 pm) - Score 12,504
fibre optic connection to house

In a major development, investment firm Fern Trading has just announced that several of their full fibre broadband ISPs and networks (i.e. those where they hold a majority stake) – including Jurassic Fibre, Swish Fibre, Giganet (Cuckoo) and AllPoints Fibre – are to be consolidated into a single Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) operating entity.

Regular readers might recall that we speculated about the possibility of such a move last month (here), which came after Vitrifi – another of the company’s that Fern backs – launched a new technology to help Alternative Networks (AltNets) offer wholesale products. At that point, it seemed likely to us that Fern’s own providers would be prime targets for such a solution, particularly as they all operate in different parts of the UK.

NOTE: At the time of writing, the newly proposed entity does not yet have a name.

However, we should add that Vitrifi and business fibre ISP Vorboss, the other two companies in Fern Trading’s fibre division, are not being consolidated with the other four businesses, but will continue to work closely with the combined group.

Summary of the Providers and Fibre Plans

Giganet – Backed by £250m from Fern Trading to cover a total of 300,000 premises by the end of 2025 – across poorly served parts of Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and West Sussex. Passed 50,000 premises so far (Dec 2022).

Swish Fibre – Backed by £225m from Fern Trading to cover a total of 250,000 premises across the Home Counties of England (i.e. mostly Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Hampshire). No data on premises passes so far.

Jurassic Fibre – Backed by £250m from Fern Trading to cover 500,000 premises across the South West (Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and Dorset) by the end of 2025 (covering 30 towns and villages). Passed 100,000 premises so far (June 2022).

AllPoints Fibre – Working to deploy a wholesale FTTP network for other ISPs to use, but details still vague (here).

Under the new plan. The combined group’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) brands will now accelerate delivery of a “fast and fair” full fibre offering for retail customers across the enlarged network. The businesses will work to combine their regional operations and create a national wholesale network during the course of 2023.

But it’s currently unclear whether this means the individual retail ISP brands involved, as well as the underlying network, will also be consolidated under a single name. We have asked and will update again later. In addition, the reason why Giganet’s CEO is the only one of the four to comment below is because he’s the one that Fern has chosen to lead the combined group moving forward.

Jarlath Finnegan, CEO of Giganet, said:

“All four companies are excited to build upon the solid foundations they have built over the last few years as a combined force. Together, we will become even stronger through exceptional customer service, combined with a relentless focus on technology and product. We’re looking forward to expanding our presence across the country and providing even more customers with access to full fibre connectivity.”

John Browett, Chairman of Fern Trading’s Fibre Division, said:

“In the coming years, the UK fibre market is going to experience exponential change, driven by the massive need to ensure homes and businesses in every part of the UK have access to a fast and fairly priced internet service. We expect to see continued consolidation within the industry, and by combining these successful businesses now, we will be in a fantastic position to take advantage of those market opportunities as they unfold. Our ambitions have always been high, but today represents the start of even bolder aspirations for our place in the UK fibre sector.”

On the plus side, the unification of the four businesses will enable them to combine their resources, knowledge and expertise to hasten and grow full fibre network access across the UK. Inevitably, this will also find various cost efficiencies, although that in turn could – we imagine – potentially result in a few redundancies, but it might create some new roles too.

At this point it’s worth highlighting that some other investment firms, such as Infracapital, are also putting significant backing behind several FTTP operators in a similar fashion to Fern. In that sense, we can’t help but speculate about whether they, and others like them, might be considering a similar move.

UPDATE 5:19pm

According to Fern, the initial aim for this year will just be to ensure the operational unification is a success. Put another way, they aren’t creating a new brand for the combined business now, but will look at refocusing or changing some of their brands within the group in the future.

UPDATE 9th Feb 2023 @ 11:57am

Fern has stressed to us that redundancies are not part of the plan for this initiative. The company also wants to ensure that they’re in a strong position to be active in the looming wave of industry consolidation that is anticipated over the next few years.

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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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21 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jonny says:

    So it begins. I assume this isn’t happening without staff “consolidation” as well so best of luck to them for the future.

    1. Avatar photo Iain says:

      That’s a good point about the staff. Best of luck to them indeed.

      Separately, Giganet had been planning to switch to the Giganet brand for business customers, and use the aquired Cuckoo brand for retail customers. I wonder what’ll happen to that.

    2. Avatar photo Sam says:

      It won’t be build nor install engineers that will be affected as they cover different areas. There’s only so much HR needed. Prob some customer service too

  2. Avatar photo Sussex Fibre says:

    I predicted this one a while back – they are all being bankrolled from the same investment firm and choosing not to overbuild each others networks. Collectively they have large amounts of build across the South of England so it will be interesting to see how this pans out.

    1. Avatar photo Vince says:


      Depends how you look at it – if you took the areas some of them claim to be in then sure, but in reality they’re generally in small parts of those areas so the footprint isn’t anywhere near as big as it seems on paper – and at least 2 of them often show coverage where they absolutely can’t yet provide service but kinda-hope they can sometime – if they ever get wayleaves etc.

  3. Avatar photo FTTPcomestogether says:

    This feels like the start of something and I’m excited but don’t really know why…

    1. Avatar photo Vince says:

      Nothing to be excited about. End result will be the Virgin Media of FTTP, and that’s not exactly great…

  4. Avatar photo John Nolan says:

    I suggested as such in my Nov 21 NICC NAN paper – see page 11 at https://bit.ly/3nlXZAc

  5. Avatar photo Anon says:

    This is great news for the telecoms industry in the UK, finally someone with enough backing to take on the shit show that is Openreach/BT/Voda.

  6. Avatar photo Nick Fox says:

    Consolidation is starting, with so many alt networks out there. Similarities to the cable tv networks years ago that created NTL, now Virgin Media O2. As a Giganet customer I moved to the from VMO2 and saved almost £40 per months from M350 & landline. These will be interesting times.

    1. Avatar photo haha says:

      I agree, by the end of this year Plusnet will be gone – BT brand will be gone it will all be EE – it’s on the cards and training is currently ongoing for it

  7. Avatar photo James says:

    What kind of footprint do they have altogether?

  8. Avatar photo Vince says:

    Absolutely predictable, the name will change, the jobs will reduce, the only possible way these various altnets survive is consolidation.

    There literally isn’t the money to do anything else long term – a bazillion small outfits can’t hope to profit.

    (See also: Cable network mergers)

  9. Avatar photo Freddo Mercury says:

    Dum, Dum, Dum…. Another 4 bite the dust.

  10. Avatar photo WritingOnTheWalls says:

    Time for Gigaclear, Fibrus, WightFibre and Ogi next. Infracapital should merge them sooner rather than later, so much duplication in data centre infra, peering, transit and internal business processes. Keep the external brands, but merge the backend before each of the businesses implement too many differing internal standards and processes.

  11. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

    Distress move. Fern having to get a grip of their basket case investments.

  12. Avatar photo Andy says:

    This is a good move. Being able to share resources and have stronger purchasing power will hopefully reduce some of their overheads. Also with being a larger group, they will be in a better place to be able to offer wholesale services to other operators and get the returns for their investment. At the end of the day, the average end user doesn’t care who the wholesale provider is when they get their internet from the likes of Vodafone and TalkTalk. Thus having the big companies indirectly sell the service can only be a good thing.

  13. Avatar photo Don says:

    Jurassic fibre announced over 100 redundancies in recent weeks are likely and consultation has begun. Those within the build teams are mostly at risk as the shift from build to maintain and acquisition begins.

  14. Avatar photo Fibre Dave says:

    I’m surprised ISP Review hasn’t covered a follow up to this story, given Fern updated “Fern has stressed to us that redundancies are not part of the plan for this initiative.”
    We now know 250+ have been put at risk across Swish & Jurassic, accounting for 25% of the workforce, all in the construction areas of the business, expecting 150 to go.

  15. Avatar photo End of the gold rush says:

    Update 9th Feb is interesting, 5 months later LinkedIn is a wash with Swish employees looking for new employment because of redundancies.

  16. Avatar photo Gigatwat says:

    The whole group is up for redundancies, currently voluntary but will turn to mandatory where most of JFL, Swish and APF will lose their jobs while GigaNet take all the positions. Most of the losses were from Giganet however they seem to be safe to completely mess up the whole fund! How on earth do Fern allow this to happen with such incompetence is beyond belief.

    Re-read over the original statements, “UPDATE 9th Feb 2023 @ 11:57am

    Fern has stressed to us that redundancies are not part of the plan for this initiative.”

    This was a point blank lie and I as well as some others left secure long term jobs to join this shower of shit to be lied to and led down the garden path. How they have done this to their staff is through fear and deception and should be held to account. A shambles of a company with completely clueless leadership who are not being held to account for the mess they have caused while the actual workers are being made the scapegoats.

    If any roles come up externally for this shower of a company I would strongly suggest to steer well clear!!!

Comments are closed

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