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Rural UK Broadband ISP Gigaclear Secure £1.5bn Debt Facility

Friday, Dec 15th, 2023 (2:51 pm) - Score 3,920
Gigaclear-engineer-at-work-on-mini-digger

Abingdon-based rural broadband ISP Gigaclear, which has already extended their gigabit speed full fibre (FTTP) network to cover 500,000 premises (430k Ready for Service) across parts of 26 counties in England, has today secured a major new debt facility of up to £1.5bn to help fuel their roll-out.

Just to recap. The provider, which is currently home to over 80,000 customers (20th July 2023) and employs more than 750 people across eight office locations, currently holds an ambition to cover “over” 1 million premises by 2027. But despite the current investor apathy in the sector, they’ve still been able to secure a new debt facility.

NOTE: Gigaclear is principally owned by Infracapital, together with Equitix and Railpen, and previously had investment commitments estimated to be worth up to around £1.1bn (here).

The new debt facility is split between an upfront facility of c.£1bn and an uncommitted accordion of c.£500m. The facility is provided by a consortium of banks comprising ABN AMRO, Credit Industriel et Commercial, HSBC, Kommunalkredit, LBBW, Lloyds, NatWest, NAB, NIBC, and SEB. The UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB) also provided its guarantee product, covering £240m of commitments.

The facility will naturally be used to accelerate the company’s long-term build plans. Gigaclear was advised on the transaction by Rothschild & Co and Latham & Watkins, Clifford Chance acted as legal counsel to the lenders.

Gigaclear CEO, Gareth Williams, said:

“By securing this debt funding, we’ve shown that despite high levels of volatility in the sector there remains an appetite among lenders to support fibre operators that can demonstrate a robust business model. Not only is it an endorsement of Gigaclear’s mission to take its full fibre broadband to underserved, rural communities across England but it is also reflection of the great things being achieved by the team at Gigaclear.

Gigaclear’s resolve to reach more than one million premises by 2027 is supported by this announcement, which is nothing less than a vote of confidence in us successfully achieving our goal.”

Residential customers on the network typically pay from £17 a month (£41.50 after 18-months) for a symmetric 200Mbps broadband package, which rises to £49 (£82 after 18-months) for their top 830Mbps plan. All packages include a wireless router and free installation.

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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
22 Responses
  1. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

    Congratulations to Gigaclear on a very late entry to the most unsafe working practices of the year award.

    1. Avatar photo Tom says:

      What do you mean?

    2. Avatar photo Peach says:

      No helmet and only 2 points of contact with the ladder for a start?

    3. Avatar photo Tom says:

      huh, I see.

    4. Avatar photo Charlie - UK says:

      Better than the alternative BT, who have received eye watering amounts of government money for Rural FTTP and done absolutely nothing. I’ve waved goodbye to BT and I won’t be going back, they are beyond a joke…

    5. Avatar photo NE555 says:

      Citation Needed™. They don’t get paid until the build is completed: can you give a specific example of where BT have received government money in advance for FTTP rollout, and not delivered?

      Also, for the superfast (FTTC) rollout, contracts were set so that once take-up reached certain percentages it was all clawed back. The demand for FTTC was much higher than originally thought, so essentially FTTC was done entirely commercially.

      As to whether you buy service from BT Retail, that’s entirely up to you, but if you went to another Openreach-based ISP then you’re still paying for the same infrastructure. If you have an altnet available then good for you, but most people don’t have that option.

    6. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      need some meat on those bones Charlie.

      There isn’t that much subsidy swishing around in the FTTP era, aside from targeted projects. Openreach did a lot of FTTC back in the day because that was faster to deploy and most importantly it met the BDUK criteria of 30Mbps or more. Where they couldn’t, FTTP was used, and there’s a lot of 1st gen OR FTTP in places like Wales and Cornwall for that reason. As stated, lots of money was clawed back and often ploughed into harder to reach places that did get FTTP.

      Openreach are of course the only company making a real dent in increasing rural FTTP coverage today. They have a compelling use case to get copper out, especially in rural areas.

  2. Avatar photo Rich says:

    But when will they release faster services 😀

  3. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

    That is a bit pricey compared to other alt nets, which makes little difference to people in their area if they can’t get other alt nets.
    If they are trying to compete against providers on the Openreach network, then they need to reduce the prices.

    1. Avatar photo GigaWatcher says:

      In a lot of cases they deploy where there is no FTTP alternative or at least beat the competition by some margin to go live. I haven’t noticed them overbuilding around the area I keep an eye on. How to entice them to install to mine is the problem.

    2. Avatar photo AnotherTim says:

      I use Gigaclear – the only alternative is sub-USO ADSL – but the price is competitive anyway, and symmetric FTTP is something I’d happily pay more than I do for. The “standard” price after the initial contract period is negotiable, so you won’t pay that (unless you’re bad at negotiating…).

    3. Avatar photo jason says:

      well ive been with them for 3 years first 18 month contract was £24 month 400mb now im paying £55 a month for same as they say they’re a small company cant afford to dish the deals to existing customers no customer loyalty what so ever once my contracts up im going over to virgin much cheaper deals for the same amount of data.

    4. Avatar photo AnotherTim says:

      So did you start a new contract for £55pm, or are you just paying the out-of-contract price?
      Did you actually ask about a new contract for less?

  4. Avatar photo MrP says:

    Gigaclear are rubbish, they mess you about and never come back to you, I don’t know how they managed to secure that funding…

    1. Avatar photo MikeP says:

      Yeah, I know they’re not really the same company, but just a little bitter over their failure on the CDS contract. 2018 was the original target for BDUK build here, now maybe Q2 2014. And a commercial build started but has now walked.

    2. Avatar photo Frans Jordaan says:

      Totally agree with the bad service,my Internet keeps dropping and advice is always, reboot and try again! Asked for technical division to check installation, alli get is another e mail to setup nodes etc

  5. Avatar photo jason says:

    well ive been with them for 3 years first 18 month contract was £24 month 400mb now im paying £55 a month for same as they say they’re a small company cant afford to dish the deals to existing customers no customer loyalty what so ever once my contracts up im going over to virgin much cheaper deals for the same amount of data.

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      Best hope they get overbuilt by someone else. Those discounts they can’t afford may suddenly become affordable again.

  6. Avatar photo Jon says:

    Hope this helps improve customer service for the unfortunate customers who get caught in a time loop of cancelled final installation appointments. I had so many I cancelled the contract. You get lots of great offers such as free broadband for 6 months which doesn’t really help if they keep cancelling appointments with just a day’s notice.

    1. Avatar photo Pete says:

      Yes – same here. I’ve been waiting over 9 months for them to do the final install. They set a date and then never show up or cancel it the day before and push it back a month. Warning for anyone thinking of signing up to them – this will go on for 8 months or longer… I’m still waiting. If I knew this was how they operated, I would never have signed up. Shockingly bad customer service.

  7. Avatar photo Lee, ISP preview says:

    I’ve been with gigaclear since March 2020. Rural Essex, and they are the only FTTP supplier. We’ve never had issues of Internet dropping out and always found it extremely stable. I’m currently on their top 900mbs package, discounted down by a fair chunk. I’ve got our neighbours onto them too. With a partner working from home, and myself as a gamer dependent on a good connection… they’ve gained my loyalty. Sorry to all those who haven’t shared my experience.

  8. Avatar photo AntiMoaner says:

    It always amazes me what people will moan about.

    Example:

    I don’t have FTTP and I live 5 miles from the nearest human……….a week later, I have Gigaclear FTTP available but I’m not paying that much for it……

    Do people on here really understand the cost of deploying rural fibre and what is involved because £40-50 a month for FTTP in the middle of nowhere is a good deal!

    Its a damn site cheaper than Starlink, less latency and more reliable.

Comments are closed

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