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Full Fibre UK ISP and AltNet Toob to Focus on Growing Take-up

Monday, Oct 9th, 2023 (3:21 pm) - Score 3,512

Nick Parbutt, the boss of network builder and UK gigabit broadband ISP toob, has revealed that the operator may have changed its strategy to focus more on growing customer take-up than on expanding their network coverage. But at this stage it’s unclear whether this will impact their existing coverage target.

The operator, which was originally backed by £75m from the Amber Infrastructure Group (here) and “up to£87.5m from the Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund (here), recently secured £160m of additional funding (debt financing) from Ares Management‘s Infrastructure Debt strategy (here) – this can be upsized up to £300m over time to support future growth opportunities.

NOTE: Toob’s fibre already covers 150,000 premises (not all are Ready for Service) and they have 20,000 customers (c. 95% on their own network). The operator aims to cover 1 million premises across the South of England by 2027 (Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey etc.).

However, while the fresh investment will have done a lot to help, it’s also true to say that network operators – more broadly – are currently under a lot of strain, such as from rising levels of competition (price and overbuild etc.), rising costs (e.g. leases, build, inflation) and the need to generate a good level of consumer take-up in order to satisfy investors.


Often those pressures can make it harder for some to attract fresh funding (an issue toob has so far managed to avoid), which may result in a slower build and related job losses as operators switch to focus on growing take-up. In toob’s case, they’re still building across their previously announced locations, but in a new interview with FibreProvider the publication states that toob’s “current focus is on growing its customer base“, rather than build.

Nick Parbutt, CEO of toob, said:

“In the current market, financing is critical. Over the last few years, the industry has enjoyed access to cheap money, but this is no longer the case.

With risk profiles changing, investors are looking more critically at businesses and backing only those they believe have a sound strategy and the ability to execute.”

At this point it’s unclear what this means for toob’s future roll-out plans and existing coverage target, although there’s no indication of any looming redundancies and in any case such things would be unlikely to follow so soon after a major funding announcement. Toob thus seems to be taking the prudent approach, by keeping their engineers focused on existing builds and putting more effort into growing take-up. Time will tell.

Customers of the service typically pay just £25 per month on an 18-month term for their 900Mbps (symmetric speed) package (£29 thereafter), which includes a router, unlimited usage, free installation and a pledge of “no in-contract price rises“. The operator also sells into a few parts of CityFibre’s rival FTTP network (that agreement also gave CityFibre some reciprocal access).

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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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27 Responses
  1. Avatar photo XGS says:

    It’ll be interesting to see what these folks can do to increase their customer base given they’re charging £25 a month for symmetrical gigabit.

    1. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:

      Just advertise I assume? At that price not much more would be needed!

    2. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      As been said, advertise, but they also need to be reliable, if not then bad words spread.
      Zzoomm is normally in our local Morrisons and sometimes in the centre of town.

      This concentrating on getting more customers is something I said about and was shot down in flames.

  2. Avatar photo Nick says:

    Moved to Toob a month ago, and from what I can tell there is only one other household in the immediate area of a few hundred houses that has it (looking at new fibre from the poles when walking the dog).

    The couple of other people I’ve spoken to in the road don’t really seem to care about changing ISP on the grounds what they have works for them despite Toob being so affordable.

    1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      That is the problem, I have said to some people about changing to FTTP and they have no interest, up to them at the end of the day. But they are happy with what they have got, something which I kind of agree with.

  3. Avatar photo I love Starlink says:

    Just advertise I assume? At that price not much more would be needed!

  4. Avatar photo Greg says:

    At least they admit they’re struggling and need to concentrate on improving Take-Up rates.

    Unlike other altnet builders (such as Cityfibre) who are stopping many builds mid way through but at the same time saying ‘it’s going great and everything’s going to plan’.

  5. Avatar photo Christopher Mccuaig says:

    I can’t even get more than 22mb where I live. Wish I had options!

  6. Avatar photo Barney says:

    Problem is people have their broadband tied up with their Sky or Virgin (especially in Southampton and Eastleigh for example) and they don’t know the difference between the products and just see it being annoying they have a separate broadband package – however superior.

    It’s a shame Toob didn’t try and move a little out into suburban/semi-rural Hampshire as although builds might be higher the demand for better broadband is much higher.

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      Or like where I am, the altnet where I am (Swish) is still building 2 years after Openreach went live and have a 2 year head start on building up there customer base (currently 38% in my street) and once people have got the infrastructure into their house they ain’t going to want a second installation.

  7. Avatar photo Anon says:

    They should try to launch a free trial for those still locked into contracts

  8. Avatar photo NeilB says:

    Giganet have finally gone live in my part of Totton, Hants. At least 2 neighbours and myself are now on-net since they came door knocking and offering 12 months free.

    Toob have planning for Totton, but then Giganet came in and started laying their fibres. That would seem to have stopped Toob from carrying on their build any further.

    1. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

      This is typical isn’t it. Just down the road in Hythe we don’t really have either – Giganet are half laying but seem in no hurry (a year behind schedule now)- preferring to compete in Totton, Marchwood and Fawley. Toob constantly seem disinterested in the area. Trooli just skipped the difficult streets where PIA was difficult. Totton has VM, Giganet and now BT going in doesn’t it? Marchwood and Fawley has Giganet, Trooli and BT now…

      What a mess of overbuild and skipped streets (mine in particular 🙁 ). Its become one big postcode lottery – one I losing on the FTTP and 4G front…

    2. Avatar photo NeilB says:


      I don’t want to gloat, but I now have 3 CSP boxes on my house, VM cable, BTOR fibre and now Giganet 🙂

      The install engineer was from Hythe and he told me that he could not get it either, so appears to be in the same position as you. Really maddening for the both of you.

    3. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

      @NeilB – Yep – Really flipping annoying. Trooli and Giganets coverage has been very random. Trooli it looks like they did PIA where it was decent poles/ducts and skipped the rest. Giganet seem to be using moles/digging to lay their own trunking but seem to be covering the same areas Trooli have already covered rather than concentrate on areas like mine with zero coverage! It sometimes feels like they want competition!

    4. Avatar photo A Nonny Mouse says:

      @Cheesemp – from what I’ve seen, the issue is that the design teams work in splendid isolation, handing out their construction packs which are then implemented come what may until something physical gets in the way. Feedback from the field, and the necessary replan/redesign loop is slow or non-existent (not these Altnets, but I guarantee it’s endemic)

    5. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

      @A Nonny Mouse – I know you are right. Doesn’t make living in an ignored spot any better though! I remember thinking when the Gigabit percentages hit 60% thinking it can’t be that long. Now its approaching 80% I begin to hate my unlucky urban postcode.

  9. Avatar photo John says:

    Maybe overbuilding on others isn’t the best strategy for takeup

  10. Avatar photo HullLad says:

    And so it begins…

    All of these altnets that were given endless supplies of cash to build as far and as fast as possible, will be starting to regret overbuilding now that the investors are wanting to see some returns.

    I expect to see a fair few altnets go under over the next couple of years, especially those with a high concentration of overbuild – there just isn’t the customer base to sustain them all.

    1. Avatar photo JGH says:

      @HullLad – Next couple of years? It’ll be a lot sooner than that.

    2. Avatar photo HullLad says:

      @JGH Fair – probably already started…

    3. Avatar photo Network Manager says:

      You are spot on! I’m in the altnet business and its like a Gold Rush land grab for the land and the customer base. Some investors are ploughing millions into the ground for very little return and now there will be a huge scenario where all altnets will be investing to acquire and purchase the same altnets that decided to place 2 or 3 identical fibres in the same ground space. Where i live there must be 5 different FTTH suppliers. I’m already seeing takeovers. In 5 years the market will go from 100+ altnets to perhaps 5 or 10

  11. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    Toob’s advertising is odd. They keep advertising to me (I see an advert weekly on google) but they do not cover my postcode (or even town). I reach out to them and they are disinterested in improving this.

    1. Avatar photo Sonic says:

      We are bombarded with Toob adverts in Winchester too. Reached out to them multiple times but they have no interest in rolling out here.

  12. Avatar photo Chris says:

    Apart from Virgin, Toob don’t have much competition in Southampton at least in the ultra fast category. Since going live in June 23 where I am, Toob have been round knocking on doors to try and get customers at least 3 times, so they are trying the direct approach. The service is very good for the price, I think they will need time for people to finish contracts to round up more customers.

  13. Avatar photo Adam says:

    Poor take-up rates are the biggest problem for the altnets. They can invest as much as they like in builds, but if people don’t need FTTP right now then there’s not much they can do to start making profit.

    The money they’ve invested in building is simply costing them millions.

    This is exactly the reason why Cityfibre are stopping mid build all across the country. They’ve got to get their finances under control.

    The next 6 to 12 months are going to be very interesting.

    1. Avatar photo JR says:

      @Adam. Yep, given up, packed up and left half way through the build in Maidstone, after causing utter chaos on the roads throughout the summer holidays.

      Thanks very much Cityfibre.

Comments are closed

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