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Gigaclear Win GBP16.6m East Gloucestershire UK Gigabit Broadband Rollout UPDATE

Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2024 (7:27 am) - Score 1,920
Gigaclear-engineer-at-work-on-mini-digger

The UK Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit broadband rollout scheme has today awarded the local £16.6m (state aid) contract for East Gloucestershire in England to ISP Gigaclear, which will aim to extend their full fibre network to around 4,400 additional premises in hard-to-reach rural areas.

Just to recap. Project Gigabit aims to extend 1Gbps (download) capable networks to reach at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025, before aspiring to achieve “nationwide” coverage (c. 99%) by 2030 (here). Commercial investment is expected to deliver more than 80% of this, which leaves the government’s scheme to focus on tackling the final 20% (mostly rural and some suburban areas), where the private sector alone often fails. The project is technology neutral, but Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) networks are strongly favoured.

NOTE: Over 80% of UK premises can already access gigabit speeds (up from over 72% at the end of 2022), which drops to 60%+ when only looking at full fibre (up from 45%) – detail.

The project uses a number of different methods to tackle this challenge (e.g. vouches and investment in dark fibre builds), but the largest part of the scheme involves a gap-funded subsidy approach – the Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy (GIS). This is where smaller local or larger regional contracts are awarded to network operators and ISPs who can help to build their gigabit-capable infrastructure across the final 20%.

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The East Gloucestershire (Lot 18) contract being announced today is a smaller “local” deployment, which will aim to reach around 4,400 additional premises, although in an unusual move we didn’t receive any official press releases about it from either BDUK/DSIT or Gigaclear. Due to this, we don’t have as much information on their plans.

Nevertheless, we do know that the first premises under this contract are anticipated to have access to gigabit-capable broadband sometime in 2024 (yep, that’s as specific as it gets.. for now). In addition, there is a very rough map available, which sort of shows the areas due to be upgraded – seemingly using the large orange dot approach.

Gigaclear-Project-Gigabit-East-Gloucestershire-Map

At present, Gigaclear’s existing full fibre (FTTP) broadband network, which typically focuses upon serving more rural communities, has already covered around 500,000 premises (430k Ready for Service) across parts of 26 counties in England, and they’re home to 80,000 customers. But the operator also holds an ambition to cover “over” 1 million premises by 2027.

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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). But the provider has also recently secured a new debt facility (here) – worth £1.5bn.

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.

We hope to have more information once Gigaclear gets around to issuing a press release.

UPDATE 9:52am

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Gigaclear has just issued their official press release, which states that 18 rural communities across rural East Gloucestershire are set to benefit: Alderton, Andoversford, Aston Somerville, Brockhampton, Cold Aston, Coln St Aldwyns, Great Rissington, Hawling, Kemble, Lower Slaughter, Miserden, North Cerney, Quenington, Stanton, Tarlton, Teddington, Upper Slaughter, Woodmancote.

Survey work is due to get underway in the spring, with the build due to begin in the autumn. The work is due to be completed by spring 2027.

Gigaclear CEO, Gareth Williams, said:

“I welcome the award of this latest contract as it reinforces the important role Gigaclear is playing in helping the Government achieve its wider broadband roll-out ambitions. Gigaclear has been working with the government in Gloucestershire since 2015, connecting approximately 27,000 premises on behalf of Fastershire, the county’s digital partnership with Herefordshire. When added to our commercial build footprint in the county, Gigaclear’s network in Gloucestershire extends to almost 75,000 rural homes and businesses.”

The release also notes that they’re now home to 95,000 customers, which is a good jump from last time.

Project Gigabit GIS Contract Awards History
Wessex Internet for North Dorset (Lot 14.01) in August 2022 (here)
➤ GoFibre for Teesdale (Lot 4.01) in September 2022 (here)
➤ GoFibre for North Northumberland (Lot 34.01) in October 2022 (here)
Fibrus for Cumbria (Lot 28) in November 2022 (here)
➤ Wildanet for Central Cornwall (Lot 32.03) and South West Cornwall (Lot 32.02) in January 2023 (here)
CityFibre for Cambridgeshire (Lot 5) in March 2023 (here)
Wessex Internet for the New Forest (Lot 27.01) in April 2023 (here)
➤ Freedom Fibre for North Shropshire (Lot 25.02) in May 2023 (here)
CityFibre for Norfolk (Lot 7), Suffolk (Lot 2) and Hampshire (Lot 27) in July 2023 (here)
➤ Gigaclear for South Oxfordshire (Lot 13.01) and North Oxfordshire (Lot 13.02) in Nov 2023 (here)
➤ Connect Fibre for North East Staffordshire (Lot 19.01) in Nov 2023 (here)
➤ Connect Fibre for Derbyshire (Lot 3) in Dec 2023 (here)
➤ CityFibre for Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire & East Berkshire (Lot 26), Leicestershire & Warwickshire (Lot 11), West & East Sussex (Lot 16 & 1), Kent (Lot 29) and Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire & Milton Keynes (Lot 12) in Feb 2024 (here)
Connexin for Nottinghamshire & West Lincolnshire (Lot 10) in Feb 2024 (here)
Quickline for West Yorkshire and York Area (Lot 8) in Feb 2024 (here)
➤ Gigaclear for East Gloucestershire (Lot 18) in Feb 2024

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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
18 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Sceptic says:

    They are probably the only Altnet out there that can deliver BDUK projects successfully.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Not sure if that’s sarcasm, given Gigaclear’s rather varied history on BDUK projects.

    2. Avatar photo Fastman says:

      this looks like area that was original covered in H & contract previously won by gigaclear ?

    3. Avatar photo Alex says:

      LOL, based on what evidence Sceptic?

    4. Avatar photo insertfloppydiskhere says:

      Gigaclear has had a lot of coverage in the area for a long time tbh, quite a lot of areas outside the city are connected with Gigaclear.

      (shame they won’t just drop a few dots into Gloucester itself in the chance of actually escaping Virgin Media)

  2. Avatar photo Oldtimeuser says:

    So glad you mention the price increases in this article…

    “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.”

    So many times people post about how cheap their altnet is, without also mentioning how much their prices will differ when they have finished their initial contract.

    Just imagine the uproar if the likes of BT put their prices up by double after the customers initial contract…

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Sadly, it’s a common thing across the industry, so not altnet-specific.

    2. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      at least it’s symmetric. this is very important to 99.9999999% of internet users according to this website.

  3. Avatar photo Sceptic says:

    Mark – no sarcasm.

  4. Avatar photo A Stevens says:

    The map appears to include some northern and eastern parts of Gloucester city, such as Longlevens, which are currently fibre deserts. Perhaps the race is finally on! Otherwise, having given up on Openreach and (sh)CityFibre, my next best hope will be VMO2 network wholesaling next year. We do already have the 900Mbps hybrid fibre/coax to our door, apparently…

    1. Avatar photo insertfloppydiskhere says:

      Check on BIDB for what you can get, I’m personally on VM at the moment, hoping wholesale comes soon as Openreach has no plans to upgrade from ADSL2+/FTTC, CityFibre has no plans.

  5. Avatar photo Joe Bloggs says:

    Is this old news? Gigaclear have already built a large amount of this footprint

  6. Avatar photo Ryan O'Neill says:

    I had hoped they would be excluded from new contracts until they completed their FasterShire rollout (joint Herefordshire / Gloucestershire). It would seem to be the only thing to motivate them to finish these projects.

    It’s been 8 years since they announced they’d be delivering Fibre to North Herefordshire. They’ve always got excuses, but never deliverables. I appreciate rural builds are difficult but the project management on this has been terrible.

    Next deadline is 3 months, but they’ve been saying similar for some years now. We’ll see…

  7. Avatar photo HR2Res says:

    For me, this raises the distinct possibility of the ‘nightmare scenario’ of Gigaclear getting awarded a BDUK contract for the properties they descoped from their incompleted Fastershire roll out of Lots 2/3c (south Herefordshire and Gloucestershire) that borders this awarded area. ‘Nightmare’ because I said when they descoped me that I wouldn’t entertain ever using them should I move or they ultimately fibre my area x years down the line. That descoping still rankles even after just over 2 years, and just over 7 years since they were awarded the Fastershire Lots 2/3c contract, and about 9 years since under Fastershire ‘we’ thought we’d be getting fibre BB. But now, under the aegis of Project Gigabit/BDUK, the distinct possibility arises that they’ll bid (maybe even only bidder, like last time) and get awarded the contract for those descoped properties.

    I suppose the difference this time would be that, under Project Gigabit, the network must be open for competitive wholesale and so I wouldn’t have to give them my business.

    But I’m happy for the residents of East Gloucestershire covered by this award and fervently hope that Gigaclear can connect *all* the dots this time!

    1. Avatar photo MikeP says:

      It’s also worth noting that they’re saying 3 years to complete this (comparatively small) build. So given the usual project slippage, that’ll be 5 years. If we (or rather you) are lucky.

      Hopefully by now they understand wayleaves in rural areas – what, I understand, did for them in the CDS contract.

    2. Avatar photo HR2Res says:

      I think they must have thought that rural Herefordshire and Gloucestershire was the same as the (relatively speaking) flatlands of rural Oxfordshire and Essex and (remotely) planned their contract bid to build around that thought. Then they arrived and surveyed the area and found they couldn’t complete the build for the agreed contract price. Something like that, anyway. They definitely cocked up their costings in their Lots 2/3c bid. I guess they will have learned from the experience.

  8. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    22% take up doesn’t seem that good considering they’re usually the only show in town.

  9. Avatar photo Stephen Spearey says:

    I live in Churcham, west of Gloucester and Gigaclear have been promising a connection for over three years. However, they are yet to commit to any time scale. Just promises, promises, promises

Comments are closed

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