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Fern Trading’s UK Fibre Networks Start Shifting ISP Customers to Cuckoo

Friday, Jan 26th, 2024 (4:50 pm) - Score 3,760
Cuckoo-Logo-Yellow-Stacked-2023

The ongoing efforts by investment group Fern Trading (Octopus Investments) to consolidate all four of their alternative UK full fibre broadband ISP networks (here) – Jurassic Fibre, Swish Fibre, Giganet and AllPoints Fibre – has reached a critical point, with customers starting to be migrated to a central retail provider, Cuckoo.

The consolidation drive, which was formally finalised in September 2023, is occurring against the backdrop of a market under significant strain, not least due to common issues such as rising build costs, competition from overbuild by rivals, difficulties raising fresh investment in a high interest rate environment and the challenge of growing strong take-up.

NOTE: Fern Trading also backs London business fibre ISP Vorboss, which isn’t being consolidated.

By comparison, Fern’s move to bring almost all of their AltNets under one roof could help to cut costs and make them more efficient, as well as potentially creating a single network that is easier to sell. As part of this process the investment company has already revealed that UK ISP Cuckoo, which was acquired by Giganet in 2022 (here), will now become the main retail outlet for all of Fern’s consolidated full fibre networks (i.e. this is where consumers will get their packages).

Meanwhile, the underlying physical network infrastructure from Jurassic Fibre, Swish Fibre and Giganet will instead form part of a single national wholesale network under the AllPoints Fibre brand. But this remains a curious move, as APF is easily the least familiar of their network brands.

Customers Migrations

The latest development in this story is that customers of Swish Fibre have this week started to inform ISPreview about their migration, which will see their contracts being transferred to Cuckoo Fibre Limited. But customers of the other networks will also shortly be receiving a similar notification.

Swish Fibre’s Email

What this means for you

Although your contract will be with Cuckoo Fibre Limited, the only changes you will see is that from February 2024 any payments you make to us will show on your financial statements as Cuckoo Fibre, and all Swish Fibre branding will include the words “Powered by Cuckoo” to demonstrate Cuckoo’s ownership of the Swish Fibre brand. Everything else, including your broadband services, all support facilities and associated Swish Fibre contact information, will stay the same.

We know how important the safety of your personal data is to you. Your personal data will continue to be processed strictly in accordance with the Swish Fibre Privacy Policy, available here and at all times in accordance with UK data protection law.

The good news is that there’s absolutely nothing for you to do, we’ve taken care of everything!

At present the front page of Cuckoo’s website still only depicts their Openreach based Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) packages and prices, although we imagine that will have to change once all of the consolidated networks have put their customers into the same provider. Previously, each individual network operator tended to offer a more competitive selection of cheaper and faster services, which may create some post-migration confusion.

But questions also remain over Fern’s future plans for their now consolidated network. So far Fern has declined to say how many premises the combined network has passed, as well as how many jobs they’ve had to cut in the past year, what the new coverage target is for the future and how much investment they’re putting behind it. A clear direction of travel, beyond merely consolidation, is currently missing.

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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
21 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Sam Perry says:

    So this would explain why there has been zero updates on builds since the summer.

  2. Avatar photo Ben says:

    > Cuckoo’s ownership of the Swish Fibre brand

    A strange choice of words — I don’t believe Cuckoo Internet Ltd actually owns the Swish Fibre brand, rather Swish and Cuckoo are both owned by Fern. I guess they’re trying to keep Fern out of people’s minds, but they could easily have said something like “We’ll be joining forces with some of our friends, and from now on we’ll be known as Cuckoo”.

    1. Avatar photo nobody says:

      I hate it when corporations talk like this – “our friends” etc. Just tell us what’s happening and don’t talk to us like five year olds

  3. Avatar photo Random Precision says:

    Swish Fibre FTTP 900Mbps is £39.00 a month, far cheaper than Cuckoo at £54.99 a month.It’ll be interesting to see what happens with pricing.

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      The £54.99 price is probably the Openreach provisioned price which is always dearer than the altnets.

    2. Avatar photo THATisCuckoo says:

      I am not sure they even care. I told them 6 months ago that the checker only shows 100Mbps for me but we have the option of BT FTTP and they said they would look into it. They can’t be that bothered it’s still showing 100mbps so I have had to go elsewhere. I was happy to pay the £54,99 too.

    3. Avatar photo THATisCuckoo says:

      How many other potential customers is this BT database cockup costing them I wonder?

  4. Avatar photo XGS says:

    ‘A clear direction of travel, beyond merely consolidation, is currently missing.’

    Brutal and, going by the rest of the article, accurate. Nice write up, Mark. Having folks a little too close to ISPs to the point where they moderate their coverage isn’t ideal so thanks for being so honest and straightforward unlike some that walk a line.

    1. Avatar photo BrownBruh says:

      Dam… brown bruh, enjoy that taste for the rest of your life 😀

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      It’s called common courtesy: give it a go!

  5. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    Swish have been building in Banbury for the last year or so and I’ve noticed that some of the cables recently strung between the poles have been tagged as A
    l Points Fibre. We had the reps going door to door last spring but even now they have not finished. They give the impression that their organisation of the builds is suboptimal to say the least.

  6. Avatar photo Michael Paul says:

    Jurassic fibre customers have been sent a notice as well of the name change. It’s funny that JF have had a ticket open in my name since your article in September that they’ve acknowledged is open but unanswered to this day. And that 4-5 months later once again it’s yourself providing a meaningful update to most.

    The only reason I’m still with JF is the extra upload speed vs Openreach now they’re both available here. And with Nexfibre’s network in Exmouth due to go live sometime this year (a ton of building is done) and talks of them offering a 2Gbps package, without any direction or detail from JF, it feels this network’s time is limited. JF are still GPON, no IPv6 support, CG-NAT for most customers except business, and force you to use their router at least in a modem mode. Openreach has caught up on the build in most of Devon too.

    1. Avatar photo Ben says:

      Jurassic are definitely making progress on IPv6: https://stats.labs.apnic.net/ipv6/AS208687

    2. Avatar photo Harry says:

      Interesting observtion with nexfibre, do they supply only through VirginMedia (heard they’re not the best) or are they running a separate ISP from Virgin?

  7. Avatar photo Adam says:

    APF wont last.
    I worked for Giganet from Dec 21 – Dec 22. The network is poorly built, and customer take up was shockingly low. None of the SLT had a clue how to run a business. The reason the merger happened was simple, either merge or go under.
    Customer installs are now being done by 4site contractors, which doesnt bode well.
    If APF are here this time next year ill be suprised

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      I think that may apply more generally with Fern. Where I live Swish didn’t start building for more than a year after Openreach went live and they still aren’t live on our estate more than a year later giving the incumbent player 2 1/2 years head start.

    2. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

      That definetly correlates with my experiences of giganet. I saw them starting work in my town almost 2 years ago (Apr 22). I reached out and said I’m interested – They originally gave a date that I could order for October ’22 and yet have only just scheduled the road works for my street for next week (And still have areas of the street to cover). Mean while a friend did have them lay and Giganet gave them the service for free but the service has been so poor they are thinking about ditching it (Smart TV etc never reliably work since switching for example. Was fine on FTTC). Mean while Nexfibre have come and laid the whole town in 3 months vs the 20 months of giganet (that still isn’t finished).
      (Saying all that Giganet still seem better than Trooli who just skipped anything vaguely difficult.)

      Its surprising as I thought being backed by Fern Trading who own Octopus they would have done a better job.

  8. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    Just had giganet branded leaflets through the door advertising build starting next week. Branding is obviously still being worked through at the different layers… All the new street furniture is giganet branded too.

  9. Avatar photo StillWaiting says:

    Giganet appear to have ceased all build in Tadley. Was told by someone in Support (I accidentally got put through to them when I asked a sales person about FTTP progress) that, yes, indeed, all build has stopped and will not resume for the foreseeable future – which I take to mean they’ve completely given up, probably run out of £££

    OpenReach ‘no plans to build in Tadley’, Gigaclear going like gangbusters in the surrounding villages but ‘have no plans….’ so it will be FTTC only until, I dunno, 2030?

  10. Avatar photo John Smith says:

    “all build has stopped and will not resume for the foreseeable future – which I take to mean they’ve completely given up, probably run out of £££”

    Interesting…

    About two years ago – they dug-up my road in Tadley and stopped about a block away (200m). Was told at the time that it would be any-day-now that they would complete the install down the rest of the road.

    Basically three weeks ago they dug-up the rest of my road and were still going prior to my recent trip to Barcelona. Upon my return this weekend – I expected to see fiber connection boxes on the pole in-front of my house. There isn’t one (yet).

    If they have stopped all further work in Tadley – that is annoying… as they have conduit now to all the poles in the street. But no infra on those poles.

    Seems I’ll be waiting for another 2 years for any advancement on the current situation.

  11. Avatar photo StillWaiting says:

    John Smith, you might still get lucky, Giganet might finish a few incomplete builds including in your road – I wish you the best of fortune!

    I generally never, ever, ever trust what the sales people tell me – they have a script and would be flogged if they deviate, hence I kind of trusted what the support person told me (might be less informed but more honest, take your pick)

    The whole saga of Giganet’s false promises and subsequent failure to deliver in most of Tadley (and probably elsewhere) would be an interesting study of the problems that alt-nets have faced, both in funding and management. I wouldn’t really care if Giganet/Fern Trading deservedly implode, but at the moment any other fibre provider is simply not interested in building here, which is tragic given the size of the town

Comments are closed

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