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Full Fibre UK AltNet Broadway Partners Calls in Administrators UPDATE

Wednesday, May 31st, 2023 (5:04 pm) - Score 11,464
Broadway-Partners-FTTP-Green-Engineers-Van

Alternative network operator Broadway Partners, which is supported by sibling UK ISP Broadway Broadband and had been aspiring to deploy their own gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network across rural parts of Scotland and Wales, has called in the administrators.

Broadway – supported by a significant investment of £145m from London-based sustainable investment manager Downing LLP (here) – was ultimately aiming to cover 250,000 premises with its new full fibre network by around 2028. But until recently, most of the deployments they’d already done were to smaller rural communities across different parts of Wales and Scotland (e.g. Isle of Arran, Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire and Powys).

NOTE: We’ve been informed that only around 20% of the £145m figure above has so far been invested.

However, several other builders of new full fibre networks – even some of the largest players – are currently known to be struggling due to a combination of issues, such as rising costs (build, leases etc.), aggressive competition from rivals (e.g. overbuild) and the related need to secure a viable level of take-up by consumers. All of this has a tendency to dampen the appetite of investors, slow builds and put pressure on jobs.

Something similar appears to have now happened with Broadway Partners. The company has officially appointed Teneo Financial Advisory as its administrator. The changes aren’t yet visible on their Companies House records (may take 1-2 weeks), but we do note that two Directors resigned yesterday – Mark Lam and Gerard Mcquade.

Similarly, Broadway’s recently appointed Delivery Manager, Karl Billingham, has just confirmed that he was made redundant too – after only being in the role for a couple of months: “Like many others at Broadway Partners, I am in the unfortunate position of being made redundant and am looking for a new role,” said Karl on LinkedIn. Around 137 other jobs are now on the line.

Benji Dymant, Joint Administrator at Teneo, said:

“Following significant investment in Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband, the sector has been facing into a number of adverse macroeconomic issues, including raising interest rates and inflation, in a highly competitive environment.

Despite having successfully connected a range of outlying communities to its network, Broadway has not been immune to the impact of these issues. As a result, it’s been necessary to file for Administration to facilitate a restructure of the business and provide a stable platform to affect a sale.”

The operator is now hunting for a buyer and one aspect that may work in their favour is that their existing, albeit limited, FTTP deployments don’t currently suffer from too much overbuild by gigabit-capable rivals. The company is also understood to have enough money to keep it going through the administration process. “The necessary funding is in place to guarantee service to its existing customer base, connect new customers to the existing network coverage and quality assurance,” said Teneo.

Speculating on potential suitors for Broadway is difficult due to the operator having two very geographically distant sides to their network, although in Wales alone we could imagine that Ogi, Netomnia and nexfibre (VMO2) might have some interest. Openreach is another possibility, but they don’t usually go in for consolidation.

According to Teneo, Broadway has 971 fibre customers, 1,121 Fixed Wireless Access customers and employs 137 staff.

UPDATE 2nd June 2023 @ 7:53am

Powys County Council has posted an update to say they’re “keeping a close eye on developments” at Broadway Partners and hope that a buyer will be found, but, if necessary, the council will look to work with the affected communities to source an alternative provider. The council noted that the only ‘community broadband scheme’ in the county (a reference to the council’s own scheme) where homes have been connected to FTTP so far, by Broadway Partners, is Aberedw and Glascwm.

According to the council, the other communities in Powys that Broadway Partners has been working with include Llanafan Fawr and Llanwrthwl, Dwyriw and Manafon, Llangunllo and Whitton, Nantmel, Rhayader, and Painscastle. Anyone in these communities who has questions about their community broadband schemes should contact: broadband@powys.gov.uk .

Cllr Jake Berriman, Cabinet Member for a Connected Powys, said:

“While the situation with Broadway Partners evolves, there may be delays or changes to currently planned projects in the county. We will do all we can as a supporter of these schemes to minimise disruption and remain committed to securing reliable, high-speed connectivity for as many of our communities as possible.

Delivering improved digital access to rural homes and businesses remains a key part of our plans to build a stronger, fairer and greener Powys.”

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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
61 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Todd Terry says:

    I had an interview for Broadway and was told that they were boasting of spending £1 million pound a week on civils.
    971 customers is not a business model

    1. Avatar photo Price says:

      I’m one of there largest contractors and haven’t seen a penny.

    2. Avatar photo Fibre optic says:

      971 customers that is awful.
      Why would you target a small rural area with little to no return.
      Very strange

    3. Avatar photo Broadway says:

      I also was interviewed by them for a role. I found the interviewer rude and patronising.
      Had no idea they only had 971 live connections. Serious mis management at this place

    4. Avatar photo Broadway Partner says:

      My employer is a contractor to Broadway Partners. They’re owned significant sums of money. It seems they’ve [Broadway] been in trouble for a while. Not surprising; how can that number of subscribers support that level of staffing. What are they all doing!!! From what I can see, a lot of the actual work is outsourced to build contractors (partners) like the co I work for.

    5. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      I’m sorry to see comments from contractors who haven’t been paid – seems unlikely those will be paid. Likely outcome is the administrators will conduct a pre-pack administration, where the assets get sold but the company is wound up, and in that case the unsecured creditors of the company (ie contractors, services and goods suppliers) will likely get nothing, because the assets will be sold for a fraction of the balance sheet value of the company, and the creditors (banks) will have first call on the proceeds of sale after the administrators.

      It’s curious that on 1 March 2023 Companies House were notified that Broadway Partners ceased to own or have charge over their own wholesale business. I wonder if that was sold at fair value, or simply paving the way for a convenient pre-pack?

      On a wider note, I wonder if this will be the event that shatters investor and lender confidence in the altnets, and triggers more insolvencies – that perhaps depends on how much of a hair cut the investors have to take, and how much of Downing’s £145m had been spent. If it’s all of that £145m that’s gone up in smoke, then other altnet investors will have a snigger, and then start to worry about the carelessness with which they have invested their own money. And before you know it, there’s a stampede for the exits as the investors try and get their money out, and find there’s nobody sensible willing to give them anything like the money they put in. And I’d just like to claim trademark rights on the term “altnetmageddon”, with re-use rights at 10pence per time. I’ll be rich soon.

    6. Avatar photo Buckfast says:

      Looks like the company has finally Buckled!

  2. Avatar photo finaldest says:

    We had numerous leaflets from Broadway the past few months advising us that fttp is soon coming to our area. I guess this is now not happening. This is the 2nd altnet to fail now.Openrach are not interested and neither is OGI.

    Guess its time to look at moving house.

    1. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

      Whereabouts are you?

  3. Avatar photo Sam says:

    Ah yes “sustainable” investment manager that cannot sustain its poor investments

  4. Avatar photo Alan Thompson says:

    We have been waiting 3 years for Broadway to connect us to fibre their latest (and there have been many) estimate for connecting us was by the end of summer so I suppose that’s another 3 plus years with snail pace internet

  5. Avatar photo Oggy says:

    Been going for 7 years and only got a smidge over 2k customers. That’s horrendous.

    What do their staff do all day? I hope they get sorted for new jobs quickly but they might not be used to the level of work they’ll be expected to do.

  6. Avatar photo The Facts says:

    Lurking at the bottom of the ‘about us’:

    Broadway Partners Limited and Broadway Partners LLP – In Administration (together “the Companies”)

    Benjamin Dymant and Daniel James Mark Smith of Teneo Financial Advisory Limited were appointed Joint Administrators (“the Joint Administrators”) of the Companies on 31 May 2023.

    Customers of Broadway Broadband should see no change to their supply or ongoing administrative matters, and the Broadway Broadband support channels are operating as usual and remain available for customers, should you have any questions or technical difficulties.

    What does this mean – https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/07702073/filing-history/MzM3MTE4MzE4MGFkaXF6a2N4/document?format=pdf&download=0

  7. Avatar photo John Newell says:

    971 fttp customers! I only got them because at £19.99 for unlimited 100M is was a ridiculously cheap offer, although subsidised by the government. Still got BT/OR since the fttp is down at the moment – again!

    1. Avatar photo lolfibre says:

      Services are not subsided. If they used the government vouchers intended to cover build costs to undercut others then they broke the schemes terms.

  8. Avatar photo Insider knowledge says:

    My prediction…

    Cityfibre are next to call in the administrators and seek a buyer.

    It’ll be a major move in the Altnet market.

    Don’t ask me why, I can’t say, but watch this space.

    1. Avatar photo Outsider Knowledge says:

      My prediction…

      Cityfibre are in the final stages of acquiring a number of these struggling AltNets, including one well HYPEd OPTIC company, and at least one ISP that is a household name (not VMO2).

      It’ll be a major move in the Altnet market.

      Don’t ask me why, I can’t say, but watch this space.

    2. Avatar photo Greg says:

      @Outsider Knowledge…

      What are you talking about? Why would Cityfibre be buying ‘at least one ISP’ ?

      They’re a network builder not an ISP.

    3. Avatar photo Jas says:

      I hope they go under the amount of disruption they have caused and damage to the local area

    4. Avatar photo Mark Smith says:

      City fibre biggest backers are Goldman Sachs. There is no way they are going under.
      My prediction is that they will be caught up in a bidding war between VMo2’s Nex fibre and Vodafone.
      If it were Vodafone who bought city fibre and perhaps the likes of community fibre in London as well, then together with their existing customers they would become a huge competitor to VMo2 overnight for the combined fixed line/mobile play, as well as major competitor to Openreach more broadly.

    5. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      It seems on here that people want these companies to go under as if they don’t want competition, maybe they are a shareholder in Openreach, I don’t know. These are people’s jobs for crying out loud and also other companies don’t get paid for work done, only have to look at some posts on here.

      It is a shame that this company have gone belly up, so it seems like they did not have many customers, maybe that is their fault, but as been seen getting people to change to FTTP is not easy and getting people to change from their own provider is even more difficult.

      i feel for the people who will lose their jobs, because even if the company is taken over, I expect most will go.

    6. Avatar photo Harry says:

      @Ad47uk – it’s sad but the reality is (it’s a well known fact) the market simply isn’t big enough to make it viable for all the Altnets.

    7. Avatar photo Oggy says:

      As Harry says, the market isn’t big enough to have so many players and anyone with any intelligence knew it.

      The end game for a lot of the people who started/infrared in these companies was to try and get bought out by a bigger player and to fill their pockets. As we are seeing recently that isn’t going too well.

    8. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      the other part of it being the belief that BT would once again be knobbled by the regulator into offering an uncompetitive product, thus making the altnets look attractive to customers and investors. Just as has happened previously.

      Problem is this time Ofcom actually seem to recognise that competition works both ways & you don’t deliberately knobble the company who is prepared to actually wire up the country, rather than specific cherry picked high profit areas. Hence the legal threats and whining when Equinox 1/2 was approved.

      The strangest thing about it all is that no one seems to think we need multiple electricity/gas/water networks (it’s fragmented, but they don’t overlap), but somehow we *do* need multiple companies digging up the same streets to offer largely the same broadband service using the same technology. It didn’t work for the cable companies (with their government granted regional monopolies and BT having been knobbled) and it’s debatable if it works for the mobile sector too.

  9. Avatar photo Fibre muncher says:

    The problem is when these altnets get their investments the fat cat execs move in and milk the companies when they don’t have a clue.
    I really feel for the contractors who are owed money.
    Hope everyone gets a job soon.
    I assume one of the other alnets will pick up a bargain here.

  10. Avatar photo Bob says:

    Will anyone want to buy it. If they do they pick up the debts It may be it will go into liquidation and but the assets off of the administrators

  11. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

    Complete Mis-management. Too many staff and overheads for the number of customers. I get they were sizing for a large number of customers but for the actual number of customers connected it was a poor business model..!!

  12. Avatar photo Stuart says:

    Looks like the investment has been used to create lots of management/office roles. Meanwhile there’s been no increase in boots on the ground doing the work. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

    Shame for all those who’ll likely now not get paid. It’s a shambles.

  13. Avatar photo Anonymous II says:

    Unfortunately what we have is Openreach dominating anywhere that is profitable and/or easy to reach and then rural areas left with unusable speeds. Years of schemes and investment from both Westminster and Cardiff have been pissed down the Openreach drain with thousands of miles of fibre installed but left hanging unlit for years. This is the legacy that needs to be addressed in many rural areas, these AltNets are having to build a parallel fibre network from scratch, sharing only existing poles and ducting. This is the problem, huge upfront investment in civils for the infrastructure before they can connect a single subscriber – this fact seems to be escaping many of the commentators on this thread YOU HAVE TO BUILD THE NETWORK FROM SCRATCH BEFORE YOU GET SUBSCRIBERS.
    The Broadband Upgrade Fund and various other voucher based schemes have attracted the AltNets with vouchers to cover network build and installation, but at the launch the value of the vouchers touted is nothing like the amount the DCMS has approved for projects – at launch the amount available was up to £3000 per voucher, the reality when DCMS approved the AltNet project in my area was £250 per voucher. Coupled with that Openreach have been busy cherrypicking small estates round villages for connection leaving just the outskirts and rural properties for the AltNets. Signup rates have been low as many village centres get an acceptable 30-40mbps meaning people won’t switch from FTTC. In villages where there has been a Community Partnership with Openreach they demand a near 100% signup rate in advance before committing to the build.
    Frankly the whole thing is a shambles and has been totally mismanaged for years, there is a real danger if a buyer for these separate “private” fibre networks (which is what the AltNets are building) cannot be found as they fold, then the few active subscribers will be left totally unconnected.

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      got anything to back up the claims of unlit fibre? In my rural area, you’re more likely to get the speed lottery *inside* the towns and villages, the outlying areas where FTTC could never work have already had fibre run to them and lit up. Lots of farmhouses and high end country properties with fibre to their nearest pole if not all the way in.

      The altnets have had everything handed to them on a plate, right down to existing ducts and poles, and they are still struggling to make it work.

      The voucher scheme is such a ham fisted way to subsidise it – even if the money is given to Openreach. You need size and scale, not random groups of neighbours agreeing to apply for taxpayer cash and having to organise someone to take it.

      And that’s before getting into the builds that the government has decided to throw money at. Some altnet has been given “levelling up” money to do my rural area, even though Openreach have deployed FTTP to most of it and is claiming to be coming back to do the rest? Doesn’t seem like a good use of my money.

    2. Avatar photo Anonymous II says:

      Ivor – unlit on the pole outside my house, has been there for 4 years now, even have the header box on the pole. 100m down the road there is another pole with a coil of unlit fibre, coils of unlit fibre litter the area, there is an isolated house on top of a hill 3 miles outside the village which has had fibre run all the way there except for the last 30m, it is unlit and coiled on the nearest pole.
      The fibre on “my” pole is a replacement for the superseded empty multi-core 1″ ducting which was coiled at the foot of the post for 3+ years previous to that and was ripped out without ever having the fibre cores blown through it. Coils of this empty black and yellow ducting littered the verges and hedges of the area for years, emerging from the ground next to poles before being quietly cut and removed. To get the 1″ ducting in place they had to dig up 100m of road to replace the existing 5″ underground ducting which was so blocked with silt it couldn’t be cleared.
      Yes I’m totally pissed and frustrated with the whole process of getting FTTP which Openreach initially said would be available to be over 8 years ago and the huge waste of subsidy they have been given through various political schemes and initiatives.

  14. Avatar photo Peter Delaney says:

    Puts a completely different complexion on the situation in Wales a few articles back. There, Broadway were blaming the loss of voucher funding for the collapse of a project. Plainly that was the least of their problems….

    1. Avatar photo Anonymous II says:

      The voucher schemes run by DCMS have been a sham, projects submitted and taking months for approval, funding tranches closing suddenly with little warning, having to then wait months for the next funding scheme/window to open, the voucher value being offered is a fraction of the headline value advertised.

      Broadway have been working with Pembrokeshire CC where the council is organising the rollout and appointing suppliers to attempt to get 100% coverage of the county.

    2. Avatar photo Peter Delaney says:

      The DCMS just don’t do transparency. Decisions are made out of sight of the public and they simply don’t have (and don’t want) a public interface.

      Inevitably, there are going to be conflicts between the smaller voucher funded projects and the much bigger regional-scale contacts if they exist in the same space at the same time.

      The government, and most rural folk that don’t have FTTP, or no immediate prospect of it turning up are, quite rightly, focused on the largest projects which should should deliver the majority of connections.

      Sadly, that lack of transparency, ostensibly driven by business confidentiality, can result in DCMS decisions about voucher projects that are seemingly sudden and capricious. The lack of any warning such decisions are about to happen coupled with the lack of an effective process to challenge them when they do, is truly exasperating for those affected.

      The DCMS simply refer you back to the supplier who often has no more idea, or any more influence, on the decision than you do.

      In the end it often boils down to how much influence you can bring to bear to force a change of mind. B4RN, and others, mounted a huge campaign back in 2021 when the DCMS wanted to simply stop all vouchers during regional procurements. This would have killed dozens of smaller in-progress voucher projects. In the end, the campaign was successful (resulting in the VPA approach) but it demonstrates the bias the DCMS has towards the bigger contracts.

      That the DCMS either didn’t care or didn’t notice this issue in the first place speaks volumes.

  15. Avatar photo yeehaa says:

    What a shame for the staff and contractors owed money. I suspect the business will get liquidated and the assets flogged off to the highest bidder.

  16. Avatar photo UKWISPA says:

    It’s a real shame that Broadway has failed, and sadly we will probably see other ‘fibre’ altnets go the same way in coming months.

    The government, together with infrastructure investors and Ofcom have all got things hopelessly wrong in the past few years since the publication of the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) published in 2018.

    Businesses and consumers simply want good, reliable, affordable broadband. They (mostly) don’t care if it’s fibre, or gigabit, as they can’t consume a gigabit and are not prepared to pay a premium to receive it.

    Meanwhile, Project Gigabit’s £5 billion of tax-payers money is still being poured into areas that already have fast-enough broadband. Every operator that is building ‘fibre’ is behind it’s build targets and behind its connection targets. And while this continues, the disconnected remain disconnected, and will do so for many more years unless policy makers actually look at facts rather than consultant’s collective BS and operators and investors wishful dreams.

    The truth is that the UK’s connectivity issues can be fixed much more effectively by targeting the truly left-behind first, just as was set out in the FTIR. To be fair to Broadway, this was what they were attempting, but the density and costs for this make the business case for FTTP almost impossible with the current government funding model which does not readily gap-fund effectively. In this way, alternative delivery media must be used alongside fibre, such as FWA, Fixed 5G and outdoor mesh wireless or satellite. However, BDUK is actively prejudiced against all wireless technologies, despite their legal obligation to be technology neutral.

    Broadway seems to have been much more successful as a wireless ISP than a fibre ISP, and perhaps would have been an outstanding hybrid ISP, but investor pressure and government policy meant that this could not happen.

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      why would wireless need subsidy? isn’t it supposed to be cheap to deploy. can’t you lot find investors to pitch in?

      I’m very glad my money isn’t used on technology that isn’t futureproof and subject to huge swings in performance. I’d even take FTTC over anything wireless based. The “prejudice” certainly is on a very firm footing. If anything it’s unusual for the government to have thought it through so well.

      “No one cares if it’s fibre or not” was discredited back in the days when that was Openreach’s mantra too. Now they’re going fibre in a big way, and people want it, because nothing beats it for reliability (and yes, speed too).

      That would also be proven by the struggle that the mobile networks have in pushing their version of FWA where better services exist – at least, for the one MNO that isn’t associated with a fixed line network as well – the others want to sell you fibre!

      Want taxpayer money? Get digging.

    2. Avatar photo UKWISPA says:

      @Ivor, I’m pleased that you are happy about how the public purse is subsidising the deployment of fibre projects.

      Futureproof is a very strange idea when you look at it. Electronics and technology always gets superseded by something better in time.

      People with no connectivity need help today. They need to work from home, shop, bank, learn, engage in government, book holidays, socialise, watch TV and get entertained just like everyone else.

      Mobile networks aren’t designed for FWA and you’re right, they can be erratic, but well designed and built modern ngFWA networks are every bit as consistent as any other medium. $28 billion dollars spent in the USA on FWA networks recently has been quite a boost to that ecosystem, as you might imagine. Over 2 million subscribers were added using FWA in 2022 by just two operators.

      Fibre-obsession isn’t working is it?

    3. Avatar photo Oggy says:

      @ukwispa

      “Broadway seems to have been much more successful as a wireless ISP than a fibre ISP”

      They had 1121 FWA customers and 971 on fibre so that’s 53.5% of customers on FWA.

      I would hardly call that “much more successful” not that I’d describe their customer base after 7 years as any sort of success anyway.

    4. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      The US is not a good comparison. Their telcos have notoriously underinvested and over there it’s not “oh woe is me I only get 50Mbit VDSL”, it’s about having an internet service at all. That’s why Starlink and the likes of T-Mobile’s fixed wireless have done well, though being wireless services they are subject to all the ideosyncracies that come with it.

      The government isn’t buying consumer electronics, they’re buying infrastructure and that comes with much longer lifespans. Fibre gives that to them, the expensive and time consuming part will last decades even if the boxes at the ends do not.

      How many people in the UK with “no connectivity” can’t get ADSL, FTTC, or 4G/5G exactly? How many need a custom wireless network (when they should have been given fibre?)

  17. Avatar photo John H says:

    Sadly, another one bites the dust… Who’s next?

    1. Avatar photo Pete Bucket says:

      The management have a lot to answer for.
      Clueless

    2. Avatar photo Mark K says:

      Having been involved with the alnet for many years , there has to be more high profile casualties! Railpen , Aviva and other investors with deep pockets have backed founders to then oust them and replace them with poor management teams who over promise and under deliver!
      Watch the market carefully as it’s going to be a train wreck which will result in 1000s of unpaid creditors, job losses and scrabbling for side deals. None of this is sustainable.

  18. Avatar photo Neil Farnham-Smith says:

    Looking beyond the soon to be avalanche of failing altnet providers, I wonder if anyone is thinking about the mismatching infrastructure being installed?

    Will rival providers want to support or even be able to support the wide variety of cabling and infrastructure solutions being deployed? is our near future a series of Internet service providers, trying their best to support unloved and unwanted infrastructure that isn’t to their ideal standard leaving end users with unreliable service?

    And when these providers ultimately fail and no one takes on the operations and running of their networks who is going to pay for the cost of the civils to remove the disused infrastructure?

    What happens when polls need to be replaced (I expect by OpenReach) will there be a register of what equipment is installed on those poles who is going to be tracking the status of that equipment for instance is it in service? Is it owned by actively trading company? Is it legacy equipment that is now no longer in use and abandoned.

    When a business fails, the last thing they do is update their records, and as a result, this is gonna be one huge and expensive mess that will need to be untangled.

    I think the cleanup and the unpicking of this complex mess is where the millions will be made.

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      Virgin’s a good example. The physical network would be a total patchwork quilt based on whoever originally built the network, and until the 2010s they had at least three different digital TV platforms and parts of the network that were built on the cheap and couldn’t provide broadband or interactive TV without a rebuild.

      Even today they’ve got like six different types of telephone exchange all with their own differences and ideosyncracies (caller ID support has always been patchy).

      In Australia, some people are having to deal with Telstra (their BT) selling off their FTTH networks to a smaller competitor & who is now having to try to integrate them with their existing systems. Highlights include delayed migrations and slower speeds than Telstra offered until all ONTs (“modems”) are replaced.

  19. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    I can’t understand how these altnets think there build out programs can ever be viable. We have had an altnet in this country for over 20 years – Virgin Media. It seems to me that the economics of burying fibre in the ground can’t be very different to burying coax cable & if it was viable to do it in competition with BT/Openreach they would have already done so. Unfortunately a lot of the UK is very difficult terrain to build in, and has already been passed over by Virgin Media as unviable.

    1. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      If the altnet investors had bothered to look, they might have realised that VM’s cable network does not appear to have ever been a good investment. VM’s annual reports available at Companies House show they’ve never covered their cost of capital. Their parent company LG have never paid a dividend, and although they’ve returned cash to shareholders through buybacks, that hasn’t increased the share price, which has decreased by 40% over the past five years, when the S&P500 has increased by over 50%. That’s a rotten performance, and Virgin Media are a very big part of the rot. As a merged group VMO2 the profitability of O2 now hides the dismal performance of VM, but for anybody that can dissect accounts then it’s pretty clear (some discussion on this in Virgin Media’s own forum). Put simply, if the fixed line and content sales business of VM does not cover its cost of capital after 16 years and with around 6m customers, and after successive writedowns of the early network builders balance sheets, what hope is there for most altnets?

    2. Avatar photo Doug says:

      If you hype things up enough you’ll always get investors.

      Smart websites, expensive offices, fancy suits, these all seem to fool a lot of people.

      Just look at Elizabeth Holmes with her amazing blood testing machine.

    3. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      That’s certainly the case Doug. You have to take your hat off to Holmes, Ponzi, and the other heroic fraudsters who prey on those for whom greed trumps common sense.

      But then again, in these times most of the “investors” are actually money managers who are risking other people’s money, and stand to benefit greatly from transaction bonuses or performance rewards, whilst not being exposed to the downsides at those times when it all turns to sludge. The entire financial services sector is simply a cabal playing with other people’s money, and earning huge bonuses through risky speculation, lazily surfing trends, or blind luck. But when the music stops, it’s the end investors (you, me our insurers and pension funds) or the taxpayer that takes the hit.

    4. Avatar photo Peter Delaney says:

      Virgin’s network has a lot of legacy baggage and so the economics are difficult to compare to those of newer AltNets. They have had the benefit of building largely after fibre technology matured and so construct mostly PONs with a few AONs thrown in. In other words, they all build very similar, modern, infrastructure where competition between equipment manufacturers keeps the costs low. As such, if one AltNet buys out another, integration is probably not as difficult as you might imagine nor particularly expensive. The really expensive stuff is building a network in the first place and getting the fibre in the ground, or in the air, and right up to the doorstep.

      As such, Broadway’s fibre network will have asset value. They seem to have little competition in the areas they have built which should make it an attractive proposition to someone and so allow subscribers to retain a service.

      You can only hope that the finances of other AltNets are not as fragile and this collapse will be the exception rather than the rule. Consolidation is probably inevitable but perhaps less traumatic for all concerned if done through the simple acquisition of more stable businesses.

    5. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

      Peter Delaney: “As such, Broadway’s fibre network will have asset value. ”

      It does. presumably that’s the bit that was released on 1 March 2023 according to Companies House….hopefully somebody will ask the Insolvency Service to investigate?

  20. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

    In VM’s Q4 FY2021 results, their take-up of fixed broadband was 37%. There wasn’t much FTTP around then, so we can assume that this was the percentage of customers prepared to pay for greater than FTTC speeds for the parts of the UK (~54%) that they covered.

    Elsewhere in ISPReview, it’s been estimated that FTTP is viable with around 25% uptake. This suggests that currently there is only room for one viable ultrafast fixed broadband network in most of the country. There are probably exceptions for MDUs and more affluent urban areas.

    It’s diffuclt to see how any non-specialist altnets will survive significant overbuild.

    1. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      Solid thinking, but VM’s conversion numbers are not just those willing to pay for higher speeds because of VM’s marketing and product bundling, there’s a high proportion on 500-1,000Mbps speeds because it was cheaper to accept a bundle at that speed. Which means the 37%-25% gap starts to narrow, perhaps rapidly. Given VM’s iffy economics, there’s not much space left for the altnets. I’d like it to be different, but the fundamentals are that trying to compete through physical infrastructure looks nigh on impossible, as the investors in the Channel Tunnel or M6 Toll have found.

  21. Avatar photo Jack clash says:

    Broadway was run by fools with no skill level and employed people basically blagging a wage higher than the skill level they was paid for , It was inevitable that they was going to fail

    1. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

      They were not managed by fools..!! They were managed by people with passion to deliver a service no other telco wanted to. I take my hat off to them for trying it’s a shame the investors pulled the rug rather than staying loyal and investing what they pledged. All the people there were passionate about what they were trying to achieve and getting better.

    2. Avatar photo Oggy says:

      Which member of the management team do we think “Anonymous” is?

      It’s no wonder the investors got cold feet about throwing good money after bad when subscriber numbers were so horrifically low.

      It’s fine saying that people have passion but unless they are up to the job then there is no point in them being there.

    3. Avatar photo Broadbeen partners says:

      Just a complete failure and shambles from the outset.
      Wrong people hired and a ridiculous wage structure
      Won’t be the last to fall.
      Altnets are failing miserably.

  22. Avatar photo Chris Hale says:

    I live in Pembrokeshire and joined Broadway when it rolled out to my village. Previously I had Sky via BT, and despite paying for fibre did not have a decent speed, and poor reliability. Broadway have been fast with a stable service so far. As we are also in a mobile “not spot” we have limited options.

    I am surprised at the low number of customers, i know many of my neighbours had complained about the speed and reliability of alternative provider(s)

  23. Avatar photo William says:

    Anybody with half a brain could have been certain that The Broadway Partners model would not work. I live in Aberedw and have watched the fiasco unfold. On the back of its ‘purported’ success, influential people in the community have gained ‘reputations’ for dramatically overstating its success, and their ‘clever’ management in appointing Broadway; in fact it is an unmitigated failure. In addition how much government funding has been swallowed up by executives at Broadway. This is little short of a scandal and I for one am appalled how everyone in the community and local government was sucked in to something that was so obviously unsustainable and rotten from the outset. And I made myself quite unpopular by saying so, and there you go.. the inevitable has happened. Gone bust.

  24. Avatar photo Eli says:

    The people at the top couldn’t run a Bath Never mind a company. Top heavy company with the people employed to come in and turn their colleagues PCs on. Laughable.

  25. Avatar photo Alex Reid says:

    I spent the first 18 years of my career in telco world (from mid 90’s) and worked through all of the major Altnet fibre rollouts. Nothing about Broadways demise surprises me but that said, their FWA service has been a major improvement speed wise on BT copper to the properties on the family farm on the Isle of Arran. Comfortably getting 50Mb on a consistent basis verus 3Mb just 3 years ago. Arran will make up a decent & of the 1121 FWA customers so I’m hoping that a way is found to continue to the service as the farm is way too far from nearest cabinet for Openreach to extend FTTP to (confirmed by local OpenReach Engineer).

Comments are closed

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