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Alncom Hails Remote Rural Full Fibre Rollout in Breamish Valley

Monday, Nov 20th, 2023 (12:01 am) - Score 1,040
Alncom-engineering-vehicle-splashing-through-water-PR-Twitter-Oct-2023

Deploying a gigabit-capable full fibre broadband ISP network across a remote and sparse rural area in the UK is no cheap or easy task, but alternative network operator Alncom are now celebrating after they largely completed one of their most challenging builds to date in Northumerland’s (England) Breamish valley area.

Just to recap. The Alnwick-based provider is currently aiming to extend their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to cover 50,000 premises in the North East of England – mostly across rural parts of Northumberland, County Durham and the Scottish Borders. Despite being a smaller player, the operator recently passed the 25,000 premises mark (that’s more than double last year’s figure).

NOTE: Alncom –  using kit from ADTRAN’s TA5000 fibre access platform – is supported by investment from Railsite Telecom (here) and the government’s gigabit voucher scheme.

The operator has already deployed across big parts of many locations, such as Alnwick, Amble, Rothbury and Wooler. But one of the biggest challenges they’ve faced has come from their efforts to extend that network out across the remote rural Breamish Valley and surrounding areas, which until recently were largely hobbled by slower broadband speeds via Openreach’s older copper-line based network.

Work on the project, which is funded by a mix of investment sources (e.g. the government’s gigabit broadband vouchers with Borderlands top-ups, plus some commercial investment), started in 2020 with a plan to cover the Upper Breamish Valley and Beanley (previously the area had been covered by their wireless network). The build would not have been economically viable without some public investment.

Stephen Pinchen, Alncom’s MD, told ISPreview: “We started building fibre from Powburn with the first fibre connections going live in early 2022 & we were able to convert some wireless customers to fibre. Total build time was around 12 months, but we keep going back & extending it! We were very fortunate to get a lot of help from local landowners, so the bulk of the build is ploughed into private land, with about 25% built using PIA.

As it stands, the provider has so far deployed over 200km of new fibre and the network has grown to cover 3 valleys (Breamish Valley, Aln Valley & Upper Coquetdale) over a geographic area of 139km square! A free full fibre broadband service has also been provided to 7 community hubs, while their wider gigabit broadband packages are now available to 1,563 properties, with more to follow.

Map of Alncom’s Breamish Valley Fibre Network

Alncom-Breamish-Valley-FTTP-Network-Map

Alncom declined to tell us how much the build so far has cost, but they claim to be seeing strong take-up from their efforts. The most remote areas, such as Great Ryle to Biddlestone, currently have the highest take-up they’ve seen as their original broadband was virtually non-existent. As Alncom have moved into areas with existing FTTC, they’re similarly seeing take-up “exceed what we’d expect in urban areas with FTTC“.

The work hasn’t gone unnoticed, with Alncom recently winning the ‘Best Hybrid fibre/wireless network’ in this year’s UKWISPA awards. The UK Government’s Department for Science, Innovation & Technology (DSIT / BDUK) also commissioned a case study showing the success of the network & featuring one of their customers – Ingram Valley Safaris.

Prices for their standard residential packages start at £25 per month for speeds of up to 85Mbps (there’s also a 35Mbps social package for £15) and that rises to the expensive heights of £90 for their top 925Mbps plan. New customers who order before December 2023 will benefit from a free installation, free WiFi 6 router and a 24-month contract with no mid-contract price changes. You can also add a static IP for £5 extra.

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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
1 Response
  1. Avatar photo Pedant Sity says:

    “….challenging builds to date in Northumerland’s (England) Breamish valley area.”

    Not in any part of England I can find
    ;-p
    The trouble with spell checkers when they identify something as a proper noun.

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