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Ecom to Split FTTP Broadband Network into Retail and Wholesale

Friday, Mar 15th, 2024 (8:42 am) - Score 1,440
Ecom Fibre Optic Trencher

Rural broadband ISP Ecom (Ecom Fibre), which is building a new gigabit-capable full fibre (FTTP) network across rural communities in parts of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire (England), has revealed that they’re in the process of restructuring their business into separate retail and wholesale sides.

At present Ecom is more of a vertically integrated provider and one that only serves a fairly small number of premises passed (over 2,200 – with about half of those subscribed), albeit still quite large in geographic terms. Some of the communities they serve include parts of Westcott, Ledburn, Wingrave and Wing, Crafton, Creslow, Mentmore, Blackthorn (near Bicester), Highmoor Cross, Thornborough and Hulcott.

However, customers were given a bit of a surprise this week after the provider informed them that the underlying fibre optic network, which had been previously built and operated by Electronic Communities Ltd (Ecom / Ecom Fibre), had “been sold” to Single Mode Networks Ltd (SMN).

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Normally this would be an indication of a consolidation move by a rival or something along those lines, but in this case both SMN and Ecom have the same owner, Chris Wilkie. In short, the business is in the process of being tidied up and restructured, which means it can be divided into a retail ISP and wholesale side.

Copy of Ecom’s Customer Email

Dear Customer

Please be advised that the fibre optic network previously built and operated by Electronic Communities Ltd, who you likely know as ‘Ecom Fibre’ has today been sold to Single Mode Networks Ltd. We appreciate that this may come as a surprise however please do not be concerned as your broadband, and any other service you received from us, will carry on exactly as before with the only difference being that your bills will now come from the new company. There will be no change to the price you pay or the speed of your service.

As part of this change, Single Mode are opening the network up to other operators meaning in the future there will be a greater choice for customers who are connected via our fibre. More details on this will follow in the coming weeks.

If you pay your bill via Direct Debit or an ongoing credit/debit card authority there is no action you need to take. Next time we are due to take a payment you will see ‘Single Mode Networks’ on your bank statement instead of ‘Ecom’.

If you pay by standing order we must ask you to cancel all future payments and either set up a new standing order pointing to the new company bank account, or preferably switch to Direct Debit using the link included on your most recent bill. If you need any help with this please email support@singlemode.co.uk or call us on 01296 768601.

We thank you for your continued support.

Regards,

Chris Wilkie
Managing Director :: Ecom Fibre Networks

The move means that Ecom will be able to attract new ISPs to the network. At the same time, we’re told that Ecom’s retail side might also look to get involved with selling on other networks, such as via Openreach, CityFibre and so forth. The transition is currently ongoing.

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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
7 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    Surely a 1,000 premises passed is far too small for most retail ISP’s to bother with the expense of onboarding with. Even if they got 20% of the market that would only be 200 customers. Surely just a prelude to the consolidation of the network with ECOM just becoming a retail ISP.

    1. Avatar photo - says:

      Yes. Exactly. If I were thinking of selling the fibre to, say gigaclear, while retaining ownership of the customers and retail ISP this is what I’d be doing.

  2. Avatar photo - says:

    1000 that Mark quotes is the prems connected number

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      Is it, the text doesn’t definitely say whether it’s premises passed or customers connected? I know some of these villages and they are really small. If there was 200 premises per village that would be as much.

    2. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      I see Mark’s updated the text – thanks Mark. Well done to ECOM for getting such a fantastic take up rate. CityFibre are mentioned as being a network ECOM are looking to sell on so that might be a good consolidation option.

  3. Avatar photo Piper says:

    Interesting that the firm “Electronic Communities” has liquidated owing over half a million quid….

  4. Avatar photo Bob says:

    Even more interesting that the network wasn’t actually sold to Single Mode Networks. Or anyone else.

Comments are closed

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