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London Full Fibre ISP G.Network Plans Hundreds of Job Losses

Wednesday, May 10th, 2023 (12:32 pm) - Score 7,552
gnetworks engineers

Instability in the UK market for alternative broadband networks has continued to rise today after ISP and network builder G.Network, which had been investing around £1bn to deploy a new Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP / XGS-PON) network across London, notified staff of future redundancies (sources indicate over 200 jobs could go).

The operator, which last year claimed to have already covered 400,000 premises across London (we haven’t had a solid update since then) and was recently spotted testing Nokia’s 25G PON technology (here), holds a long-term aim of reaching 1.3 million premises by around the end of 2026.

However, the first indication of potential problems at the operator began to surface last October 2022, which occurred after newspaper reports alleged that the provider had recently “warned of the risk that it could go under” and was “is in talks with its banks about raising further capital” (here).

At the time, a spokesperson for G.Network told ISPreview.co.uk that this was “simply not true“, before adding that they “continue to grow steadily amid healthy demand and [are] backed by strong and extremely supportive long-term shareholders.”

Nevertheless, 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.

Suffice to say, we weren’t terribly surprised when multiple sources began informing us today that G.Network had notified their staff of future redundancies, which follows similar developments at other operators (e.g. LightSpeed Broadband, Zzoomm, CityFibre etc.). The sources all indicate that over 200 redundancies are expected, which is from their current workforce of 670.

A Spokesperson for G.Network told ISPreview:

“After a strategic review, the new management and shareholders are resetting the operating model to accelerate revenues, network growth and business services. This will lead to G.Network becoming EBITDA positive one year ahead of previous plans. Regrettably, this transition means we are proposing a reduction of 230 roles, roughly one third of roles within the business. This will make G.Network a leaner and more efficient organisation, better placed to serve Londoners with full fibre broadband.”

The announcement contains no update on the progress of their network build, which did appear to slowdown last year, but we can also see from the latest street works data that it’s still very much active across a wide area of London. At the same time, G.Network still appear to be in discussions with new and existing lenders regarding additional debt finance, although no deals have yet been signed.

The decision to change G.Network’s business model is clearly a significant move that will negatively impact a good portion of their workforce (but some will hopefully be redeployed into new roles), although the indication is that they’re now adopting a greater focus on the customer – this may have already helped to improve their customer review scores on other sites.

The provider is also known to be trialling new ways of expanding the network in a more efficient way, such as by harnessing more third-party infrastructure, although this is something that a number of their rivals have already mastered (may help to cut build costs and put the network live sooner than usual). But G.Network also intends to honour its existing contractual commitments to suppliers and other third parties.

Residential customers of the service typically pay from £22 per month for a 150Mbps (50Mbps upload) package on a 24-month contract term (inc. £29 one-off installation fee), which rises to £48 for their top 1Gbps (symmetric) tier with free installation (currently discounted to £24 for the first 6-months).

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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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37 Responses
  1. Avatar photo John Franics says:

    All of the business metrics are at the worst performing in 2 years (RFS, sales, connections), cash is being burnt on ineffective consultants and there is a swap out of GN leadership to open reach with the culture to go with it.

    1. Avatar photo Insider says:

      Sounds about right from what I hear on the grapevine. Various top tier consultants have come and gone and still customer numbers and build quality are staggering low and of low quality respectively…

      I fear for those who remain in work there…..

    2. Avatar photo Bob says:

      Marketing and publicity is usually poor as well

      The true cost difference between FTTC and FTTP is minimal. A lot of the slightly higher price it to recover start up costs but that tend to supress take up

      If FTTP is available why not automatically upgrade people to FTTP as long as there is no extra cost
      They can be given the option to Optout

      If you drive up demand then costs fall rapidly

    3. Avatar photo ian says:

      I have been waiting for 18 months for G network to connect me , they dug up the road 18 months ago last week they told me about 8 months till we can have a connection no surprise they are in trouble , how can they make any money if it takes this long to get connected ? London SW4

  2. Avatar photo Sam says:

    And another episode of the Altnetmaggedon

    What is most surprising about this is that they had 670 staff for only around 240k homes passed. Their build has stagnated for months according to TBB

  3. Avatar photo 10BaseT says:

    Well, this is what I wrote moths ago. First redundancies then consolidation resulting in 2-3 country wide alternative operators. As always there will be a comment from some economy expert denying this.

    1. Avatar photo Insider says:

      Rumours are that it’s being primed by the CEO for Open Reach

  4. Avatar photo John says:

    Their trustpilot score is 4.2 which is… Below the altnet average

    This is a company that was putting out ads in London buses before even passing any homes. They do not know how to spend money

    1. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      Trustpilot seems to be ‘gamed’ somewhat by these providers by requesting a review of a particular interaction (a service ticket, an installation) but then Trustpilot present these as a review of the overall service. Look at the language people are using to write their reviews – saying that someone arrived on time and did tidy work after being prompted to review an install appointment is not an appraisal of the overall service. You can see the same happening with Hermes/Evri – all the reviews relate to one parcel being delivered by one particular courier. It would be good for Trustpilot to get a handle on this because companies will spam their way to 4+ ratings if it’s allowed to continue.

    2. Avatar photo Mike says:

      Glassdoor is the real eye opener

    3. Avatar photo John says:

      A lot of people just rate based on one interaction. What is interesting besides the actual score is the number of reviews

      TP reviews is usually the customer number divided by 6,7,8. Which puts their customer just over 12k, which means a very poor 5% takeup using the TBB number posted above

    4. Avatar photo GreenLantern22 says:

      Nothing wrong with requesting a review for an installation or interaction. That is part of the service ISPs give isn’t? Users could later change the review if the service ends up being that bad anyway.

  5. Avatar photo Maurice says:

    Good assets, poor execution – I guess this could make an interesting target for CityFibre or someone… the reality is there are so many altnets to whom this will happen, but this shouldn’t distract from the dozen or so who are building strong sustainable businesses that will challenge the Openreach and Virgin hegemony.

    The altnets are deal, long live the altnets.

    1. Avatar photo Jonny says:

      Best case scenario for people served by the G.Network duct network is a Cityfibre buy-out – there’s going to be no overlap with existing Cityfibre, they can get some high revenue leased line products into areas with the ability to pay for them, and existing customers can finally get away from G.Network’s very slack approach to customer service.

    2. Avatar photo Paul J says:

      @Jonny I don’t think Cityfibre investors will be throwing any more money into it, not unless their current take-up percentages improve.

    3. Avatar photo Ian says:

      Cityfibre are just teading water, trying to complete the builds already started, piling resources into marketing in an effort to increase take up, without pumping more money into new builds.

      Seems like the big money men/investors are starting to put the pressure on.

    4. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      CityFibre offered me £50 to sign up with one of their providers. Note one of their providers.

      I have never seen a wholesale provider offering end users incentives to sign up to a provider using their network.

      They’ve largely built on top of Netomnia. It hasn’t gone well.

    5. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      We have no idea if the assets are good. Seems possible they’ve passed premesis fibre to feed customers on dedicated lines and marked areas ready to go even though infrastructure not there.

      I know there are profound doubts over their numbers and their network.

    6. Avatar photo John says:

      @XGS is ON
      Cityfibre offered you £50 to sign up with one of their ISPs… I also found it strange that they launched a TV advertising campaign, spending money on a job their ISPs should be doing.

      I guess it displays how desperate they are to improve take up rates.

  6. Avatar photo James says:

    It’s clear there’s a pattern emerging amongst the Altnets.

    Redundancies followed by slowing the build rate.

    What comes next? Consolidation, investors pulling out?

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Slower builds often come first, but only a little, or occur at the same time – since a slower build inevitably leads to some job losses. What happens next depends on the operator’s ability to keep existing investors happy or attract fresh funding, but certainly consolidation would be one option.

  7. Avatar photo Jonny says:

    That’s what happens in a company managed so poorly that they do all the pricey civils work before losing track of their build and encouraging residents to register their interest despite having a G.Network toby on the path outside. You need revenue to survive and they don’t seem to know how to generate it.

  8. Avatar photo Obi Wan says:

    Not surprised, of the altnets they are well behind Community Fibre and Hyperoptic

  9. Avatar photo Avid Watcher says:

    Shambles of an execution strategy, spunked millions up the wall … first led by previous management and for the last year even worse by what is now Openreach in disguise…. new connection numbers dropping and gamified TrustPilot scores

  10. Avatar photo Jonny says:

    Quick correction Mark, the residential G.Network products other than the 1Gb (900Mbps) tier are asymmetric – 150/50, 300/100, 600/300 and 900/900.

    Small business tiers are 100/20, 200/30 and 300/50.

    1. Avatar photo plunet says:

      A business I have an association with has a symmetric 145/145 service from G.Network so there are other service tiers.

    2. Avatar photo Ben says:

      We have g.network at work and it’s a symmetric 300mbps connection. We also looked at symmetric 1gbps, but it wasn’t worth it for our requirements.

    3. Avatar photo Real Insider says:

      Start full fibre yes, has higher download than upload.
      All other Business tiers are the same up and down.

  11. Avatar photo Mark Smith says:

    Unfortunately same thing is happening at Freedom Fibre in Manchester, going down the same path as G.Network and ZooM. My cousin who works there told me that a lot of staff members are facing redundancy because the company isn’t meeting its build targets. Apparently, they’re downsizing and might even be looking to sell.
    Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen because I’ve been waiting forever for them to come build in my street!

    1. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      Unfortunately it’s the way things are going. Altnets have been a modern day gold rush, and the financial backers leapt in without remembering the old adage “during a gold rush, sell shovels”.

      Far too many players, often with with business plans that should be on the Booker Fiction shortlist, investors who think they’ll double their money and sell out in 18 months, and a desperate shortage across the industry of capable managers, and of technical and operational expertise. And outside of the head office, there’s the slow yet relentless creep of Openreach FTTP, cutthroat competition amongst ISPs, and many customers who are quite content with FTTC speeds.

      Creating a viable altnet business all looked so simple from outside, all you need was a drooling investor, a liveried van, a logo and website, and that made you a go-getting tech sector entrepreneur.

      The best we can hope for is that some of the infrastructure survives the alnetpocalypse. In some cases it may not be that the business plan is unachievable, but as soon as investors get scared they behave like a herd of prey animals fleeing a predator, and even potentially viable businesses will find their cash flow cut off and credit and equity markets closing the door in their face.

    2. Avatar photo GreenLantern22 says:

      10 Community Fibre connections in my street in less than 6 months and counting say otherwise. Not all Atnets are the same and even if some die the infrastructure will survive. Stop slagging investors, it’s their money, and they are putting it to good use. It’s unclear whether they will get back their money or not, it will depend on many things most of which are very hard to predict. Altnets are creating new jobs (even of some go), connecting more homes to super fast internet and creating competition on price. This benefits everyone in the country as it made BT wake up. So who cares who’s money it’s being lost if it is not yours?

    3. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Community Fibre is doing well. Netomnia is doing well.

      First common thing: the same guy has been CEO of one and is now CEO of the other.

      Second common thing: PIA-heavy, low cost build.

      Third common thing: heavy marketing after ready for service.

      G.Network: high cost of build as they were building it like a cable network and ignoring existing infrastructure a ton hence excavating routes with huge lane rental costs, huge reinstatement costs and Tobies that often leave a fair amount done to get to properties.

      Marketing doesn’t seem to be attracting many customers.

      They’ve been too late into MDUs – Hyperoptic and Community thank them.

  12. Avatar photo Nancy says:

    Clueless leadership…. All those that have failed at Openreach now trying to succeed at a StartUp and clearly not making any impact….

    1. Avatar photo Real insider says:

      People who could never be CEO CTO or Directors now lord around blaming the past and binning the staff that stand up to them. Either you are openreach or you are cannon fodder

  13. Avatar photo Howard says:

    Interest rates rising again today, putting more pressure on the Altnets who have massive debts.

  14. Avatar photo Bob says:

    Multiple small Alt Nets was never a sensible approach. Look what happened with Cable TV

    It would have been better to put it out to tender perhaps on regional basis or perhaps a maximum of 3 Alt nets for England. It would be most cost effective and faster. AS it is we get large amounts of overbuild

  15. Avatar photo Geoff Thomas says:

    Scattergun build. Did not spend investment wisely. Very few wards in Boroughs completed. This led to very few signed up customers. Its a shame if G.network had build complete wards it could have worked. Full civils build is a better long term product than PIA in an already congested OR network.

Comments are closed

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