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Full Fibre AltNet Trooli Aim to Reach 330,000 UK Premises in 2023

Saturday, Jul 29th, 2023 (12:01 am) - Score 2,736
Trooli-engineer-next-to-van

Several months have passed since broadband ISP Trooli, which was rolling out a new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network across parts of England – before running into money woes and pausing its build, was rescued by Agnar UK Infrastructure (here). But we now have some solid info. on their progress and future plans.

Just to recap. Trooli (formerly Call Flow) was originally supported by an investment of €30m from the Connecting Europe Broadband Fund (Cube Infrastructure Managers) and £5m from NatWest. This was then given a boost in 2021 by a new £67.5m debt facility agreement via a consortium of commercial lenders, facilitated by the CEBF (here).

Until 2022 the operator had been busy building their new full fibre network to serve a sizeable number of towns and villages in Derbyshire, Kent, East Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire and Suffolk. But in order to keep going, they needed more investment and this initially proved hard to find, until Agnar UK Infrastructure Ltd (AUKIL) took control of the business in April 2023.

Trooli’s original goal had been to reach 400,000 premises across around 300 towns and villages by Dec 2022, but the last official figure we had from them was 275,000 passed in August 2022 and even that seemed a little high (likely not reflecting ‘Ready for Service‘ premises). Since April, we’ve had nothing but silence from Trooli, but the company has now published their annual accounts to 31st Dec 2022 and finally given us some new information.

What do Trooli’s accounts say?

Firstly, the operator says that it’s now “debt free” and has restarted build activity thanks to an unspecified injection of funding from AUKIL. At the end of 2022, Trooli also says that their FTTP network had passed over 219,000 premises (Total Homes Passed), which is somewhat short of the 275k figure we were given in August 2022. But this does now sound more like a true Ready for Service (RFS) figure.

The operator is now planning to pass 330,000 premises by the end of 2023, which could be tricky to do after a pause and with only a few months left in the year. As for their other results. Trooli reported a loss for the period, after taxation, of £15.196m (2021: £8.983m) and net liabilities of £29.748m (2021: £14.552m).

The operator also has tangible fixed assets of £69.794m and their staff costs totalled £5.695m (2021: £2.810m) – reflecting a total workforce of 236 (2021: 167), although we suspect that may have shrunk a bit by now. We also get an idea of just how much money AUKIL had to deploy in order to stabilise the business..

Trooli-and-AUKIL-Deal

Sadly, that’s about all we get from their public accounts and the operator still hasn’t put out any big press releases to update us on their plans. But hopefully this long period of silence will soon come to an end.

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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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27 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

    There’s an interesting article on Linkedin (no membership needed) by Adam Sutton, a partner at Grant Thornton in which he looks at altnet valuations and the drivers. Whilst a lot of it won’t come as news to the regulars here, it’s a very nice summary, informed by acute observations of what’s been happening. In essence, nobody is making any money, but they might in a good few years yet; So for the year ahead investors have largely got the option of doubling down on their existing investment by finding more money, if they can’t find more money, they bail and take whatever they can get.

    The article doesn’t dwell on the backdrop to current altnet performance, but I’d guess that many early stage investors put money in on assumptions that have been good for well over a decade – low inflation, low interest rates, steady but very low growth, limited competition for high speeds. As none of those have proven to be correct, the early stage business plans haven’t gone smoothly. Those early investors were short term, often relatively small scale, and looking to sell out to secondary investors for a big return long before the business made any money – hence the obsessive focus on RFS and properties passed. Now that we’re looking at a cost of living problem, higher interest rates, overbuild and competition (and big moves by Openreach and VM) those early investors find that they aren’t in a seller’s market, they’re very much in a buyer’s market. Buyers can afford to be very picky, to take their time, for those early stage investors every week that passes is now reducing the sale value of the business. Interesting times for observers, worrying times for employees.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      More or less spot on. But I’d add that ‘some’ AltNets may have also been knowingly overly optimistic, shall we say, in the expectations they expressed to investors when trying to entice that early-stage funding.

    2. Avatar photo Robert H says:

      Yes, interesting and it all makes sense.

      A close friend works for one of the biggest Altnets, Cityfibre. She’s really worried.

      Their ‘premises passed’ and RFS numbers are impressive however take-up numbers are abysmal. Of course getting customers signed up is the only way they’re going to start making money.

      The last figures I saw indicated a take-up rate of 7.9%. At that rate the business simply isn’t sustainable, they’re burning through money at a horrendous rate, adding to their huge debt. Not sure how long it’ll be before the investors pull the plug.

      Of course, as you’d expect, the management constantly say everything’s on track, going to plan and will be fine. Hmmm, really?

    3. Avatar photo Chris L says:

      @Robert H

      After making hundreds of people redundant earlier this year, I noticed Cityfibre are now recruiting again.

      I guess employees are jumping ship and require replacing.

    4. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      I’ve been made redundant enough times to have every sympathy with the staff in the altnet sector.

      The good news for current or prospective customers is that once built, infrastructure is rarely unused, even if the original business disappears. Think of the early cable networks, or go back a lot longer, and the railway mania of Victorian times.

      Coming back to the employees, even where the altnet business plan works out, once the altnets have built what they want to, once OR have all but completed the easy to build FTTP conversion, and once VM+Nexfibre have gone XGS-PON, there’s going to be a need for far fewer employees on the technical and construction side. We’re probably at peak build for FTTP now, that’ll likely sustain for a few years, say to 2026/27 but then I fear a bumpy ride down. OR have already said this of their own business, but its true across the industry. I’d encourage all those on the tech side of telecoms networks to think about that – over the next few years, where’s the growth, where can you use your portable skills, or what could you learn to do that builds on your skills? Will you have to invest in your own re-skilling? Will you sit it out and fight for the smaller number of remaining network jobs? Would you transition into something like IT support for business? Upskill to build on your project management expertise? Re-train as an electrician? Retire? Complete change?

    5. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      There’s a video on YouTube of Cityfibre CEO Greg Mesch being interviewed by Richard Tang of Zen about 3 months ago. Talk about everything smelling of roses. You wouldn’t we were talking about a company that was making 400 redundancies.

    6. Avatar photo Janet says:

      I’m sure there must be some LGBT+ employees at Cityfibre. I wonder how they feel when they realise the United Arab Emirates government is one of their main investors/owners?

      Minimum 6 month prison sentence if you’re caught in the UAE, nevermind all their other human rights abuses.

    7. Avatar photo Howard C says:

      @Janet… In my opinion, the UAE government should not be allowed to invest and make money from British consumers.

      Their values are completely incompatible with the values of the majority of British people.

    8. Avatar photo Sam says:

      Yawn the UAE is doing much better than Europe

    9. Avatar photo John says:

      @Sam – What do you mean, UAE doing better than Europe? Because they lock homosexuals up for a minimum of 6 months?

      Not in my book they aren’t.

    10. Avatar photo Howard says:

      @John… I think Sam means the UAE are doing better financially than Europe.

      Unfortunately money and greed take precedence over human rights. What a sad world we live in.

    11. Avatar photo Ahmed says:

      Just wait until Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed (president of UAE) discovers that Cityfibre, who his country partly owns, is hosting a LGBT community.

      https://www.vercida.com/uk/features/lgbt-network-at-cityfibre?company=466

    12. Avatar photo Abdullah says:

      Westerners trying to impose their own morality and religion is abhorrent

      Go mutilate your own children while countries shielding kids from this evil are doing so much better

    13. Avatar photo George says:

      It’s a tough call for Cityfibre, on one hand they want to appease the wealthy Arabs as they need their money. However on the other hand they want to appear politically correct and appease the LGBTQ+ community.

      Unfortunately the two are not compatible.

      But as we all know, money is always more important than doing the ‘right’ thing.

    14. Avatar photo Phil says:

      It is not unfortunate, it is just logic that Muslims, the most conservative religion that actually stands for their own values, completely rejects this new godless religion

      In the US there was a democrat town who elected the first Muslim mayor in the country. His first edict? Ban rainbow flags from government buildings. Hilarious meltdown

    15. Avatar photo Paula says:

      @Phil. Wow, so from what you said it appears you think it’s acceptable that someone should be sent to prison for a minimum of 6 months just because of their sexuality. Or that a woman who’s been raped should be jailed for sex outside of marriage!

      Unbelievable.

      Government’s that have these kinds of laws have no place doing business in our society.

    16. Avatar photo Phil says:

      What I think is acceptable has no bearing in another country’s values or morals. There is plenty of evil in the world: concentration camps in china, child labour mining in many african countries, Trudeau freezing bank accounts in canada, etc. Complaining a private company takes money from someone who comes from a country that does something you don’t agree with, even though there are far worse actors out there, is a waste of time

      Goes even worse when your own house is not clean and many of your alphabet mob are literally advocating for men to go into womens toilets and to mutilate healthy body parts. A sick country has no moral high ground to cast stones

    17. Avatar photo Paula says:

      Being part of the LGBT community, I would strongly object that money paid by me for my internet connection would end up in the pockets of a regime that persecutes people in this way.

      All I can do is avoid using their network.

    18. Avatar photo Phil says:

      An individual or a group of individuals is far from being a regime but fair enough, voting with your wallet is a powerful tool and a core of how capitalism works. And it is great that information is out there to finally allow people to turn away from companies that go against their values, most notably Bud Light and how its wokeness is making its parent company collapse

    19. Avatar photo Hypocrites! says:

      It’s hypocritical when cityfibre are sponsoring their own LGBT network, advertising it via social media, posting photos of Pride events they’ve attended,etc.

      Meanwhile they’re working hard trying to make profit for their owners who openly persecute homosexuals.

    20. Avatar photo Paula says:

      @Phil – It’s not an individual or group of individuals, it’s an Authoritarian Regime, it’s the Government of the United Arab Emirates!

    21. Avatar photo Ron says:

      I think we all realise these business people aren’t concerned about human rights, people’s welfare, or even their employees.

      It’s just about money and pure greed.

  2. Avatar photo Ivor says:

    I live in a Trooli area. Openreach FTTP came first (and whose duct clearances and remedial work were then taken advantage of, as Trooli are PIA’ing it instead of doing the hard work themselves).

    Based on the shiny new Openreach boxes on the houses + a lack of any Trooli SSIDs as far as I can see I’m going to guess takeup is not very high.

  3. Avatar photo Trooli Awful says:

    I live in a Trooli area, and on our cul de sac of 50 houses they have connected up less than 50% the houses and left the rest. A real two tier service. We’re stuck with 36mbps “fibre”.

  4. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    I live in a trooli enabled town but they seemed to skip my 70s estate (with 300 houses) as its all 50 year old ducts while enabling all the newer estates and older telegraph pole roads (there is certainly zero activity here now other than new connections). I’d like to pretend I was just unlucky but my colleague who lives in another trooli enabled town was skipped as they seemed to run out connections for the last 4 or 5 houses on the road and just skipped them. Trooli definitely only seem interested in the easy wins. Thankfully for me it looks like Giganet is using a mole to slowly cover my estate but my friend is screwed as no sign of Giganet/BT.

  5. Avatar photo dazmatic says:

    I’m trooli islanded here. Every town around my small village is getting the trooli treatment leaving us forgotten about. It’s trooli a travesty.

Comments are closed

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