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Vorboss CEO Tim Creswick Talks Ofcom Regulation, AI and Broadband Vouchers

Saturday, May 25th, 2024 (12:01 am) - Score 1,120
Tim-Creswick-Vorboss-CEO

In a new interview the CEO of London-focused business ISP Vorboss, Timothy Creswick, has spoken to ISPreview about the progress they’ve made with their 100Gbps full fibre network roll-out, as well as their future plans, market consolidation, gigabit broadband vouchers for urban areas and Ofcom’s market regulation.

Just to recap. Vorboss has spent the past four years deploying 500km of their own dedicated point-to-point fibre across Central London (covering most of zones 1 and 2), which we’re told is enough to potentially connect all commercial buildings in the area to their direct internet access and Ethernet network.

NOTE: Vorboss is backed by an investment of £300m from Fern Trading, which has separately consolidated several other alternative networks (Giganet, Jurassic Fibre and Swish Fibre into AllPoints Fibre).

The goal of this new infrastructure has been to make speeds of up to an eye-watering 100Gbps (Gigabits per second) both available to local businesses in the city centre and at an affordable price. “In the not too distant future, a 100Gbps line will be the norm” for businesses that don’t want to share capacity, said Tim, while discussing what firms will need a bit further down the line.

Naturally, there are always those who might view such speeds as being unnecessary, but such views quickly go out of date as demand moves ever forward – particularly as this is for business connectivity and Vorboss has no plans to cater for consumers.

I’m a believer in Nielsen’s law of internet bandwidth – put simply, that high-end bandwidth need grows by 50% per year … [and AI applications, including remote computing in general, are a huge driver for that.] The latest GPT-4o update is a good example of why bandwidth will only increase,” added Tim.

The deployment phase of this new network is now largely complete, which has resulted in the operator shifting their teams to focus on customer connections. “Demand for our service is significant, and growing,” said Tim, although they’ve yet to commit to a future expansion. “We might expand outside of central London in time, but that will only happen where we’re confident that customers need our service.”

Tim also shared some rare industry praise for the current direction being taken by the UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, which he views as “working well” and helping to have “cultivated billions in private investment and injected competition into a market structure historically dominated by an incumbent.”

Ofcom recently fired the starting gun on their next major Telecoms Access Review 2026 (here), which will look to make changes that promote competition and investment in gigabit broadband and business connectivity. Tim said he wants to see the regulator continue with its efforts to “protect the competition that is emerging” and cautions them against softening their controls of BT and Openreach, due to the risk of the incumbent “leveraging [their] dominance to deter further investment in its competitors.” Typically, as markets become more competitive, then regulatory controls on incumbents may soften.

The full interview below also delves into a number of other areas, such as whether or not the Government (BDUK) are right to extend their Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) to include homes and businesses in poorly served urban areas.

The GBVS currently tends to primarily focus on poorly serve rural communities, although Tim cautions against extending this to urban areas because “subsidy interventions can have unintended consequences and can crowd out private investment.” BDUK are currently experimenting with just such a change (here), although it will initially be focused on areas that commercial investment has generally chosen to avoid.

The Vorboss CEO Interview

1. First things first, I’ve always wanted to know where that name ‘Vorboss’ comes from? It’s certainly fairly original, at least so far as network operators go.

Tim said:

I was a one-man-band consultancy doing software design for local businesses in Exeter back in 2006, and thinking what I should call the company. I wanted something unique. I had hundreds of words in my head and kept coming back to Vorboss – it sounded different and intriguing, and there were zero hits for it on the internet.

2. Can you give us a nice progress update on your network build, coverage and whether you’re seeing the sort of take-up desired for this kind of development to be sustainable?

Tim said:

Our network is live across central London, covering most of zones 1 and 2. We’re very targeted at where there’s clear customer demand for high capacity, reliable, dedicated bandwidth. In that sense we’re different to many other ‘altnets’ – we don’t have any appetite for network expansion just for the sake of it.

Our technicians are increasingly focused on customer connections, rather than network build.

Demand for our service is significant, and growing. I see two main drivers for this – reliability and bandwidth. On reliability, we see a lot of demand from business sectors that are particularly sensitive to outages and so prioritise resilience, dedicated bandwidth and time to fix faults should they ever occur.

And bandwidth demand continues to grow. The majority of London businesses are on 1Gbps or less today, and as their need grows – driven by cloud adoption or increased reliance on AI, for instance – they’ll move to 10Gbps plans, and beyond.

The confidence in that future was the basis for building this network, and it’s materialising. We’re investing in 60 new account manager positions this year to handle the increasing demand for our services.

3. Clearly, central London has so far been the key focus for Vorboss, but can you tell us anything about your future expansion plans and whether the network will grow outside those central areas, such as into other parts of London or perhaps even different cities?

Tim said:

London is our focus and it’s where we see the demand for the type of network architecture and service we deliver. We might expand outside of central London in time, but that will only happen where we’re confident that customers need our service. Critically though, we will never sacrifice the service we offer.

Our customers choose us because of how we build and support the network. We don’t use contractors, so we have full control over network quality. The customer service function is in-house and sits with the networks team, so the customer is always in touch with the people who operate the network. And our fleet is positioned so that we can be on site anywhere on our network within minutes. We will only expand the network if we can maintain this approach to quality and resilience. And for customers with additional offices outside of London, we also provide ISP services over other networks, in the UK and globally.

4. Vorboss is backed by Fern Trading, which also supports other full fibre operators that are currently being consolidated into a single wholesale network – Giganet, Jurassic Fibre, Swish Fibre and AllPoints Fibre. Given that those operators tend to service business customers too, as well as homes, then wouldn’t there have been some logic in including Vorboss into that consolidation, or is it just too much of a different focus and network design?

Tim said:

We are a very different business and network to the others in the Fern family. At a high level, the rest of the group is building and selling PON-based broadband connectivity to consumers and small businesses. That’s a very different architecture and product – and consequently a different business model. Keeping Vorboss separate from the consolidation into AllPoints Fibre makes sense.

5. Speaking of consumer connectivity. You’re obviously very firmly focused on the business connectivity side of the market, but is there any thought or ambition to perhaps expanding out to serve consumers (homes) too – either directly or via some other approach?

Tim said:

No. It’s possible to imagine a world where consumers might require the kind of connectivity we provide, but I don’t think that will be in the short to medium term. We’re specialists in connecting demanding business customers across a wide variety of sectors. That’s what our account management teams, field teams, commercial teams, and the network itself have all been built for. The shift to a consumer approach is too big, and wouldn’t deliver a return on the changes needed.

The interview continues on Page 2..

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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
6 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Ben says:

    “we also provide ISP services over other networks, in the UK and globally” – hmmm, I wonder if Vorboss will provide services over the consolidated AllPoints Fibre network? While the PON architecture is inherently worse than Vorboss’ own network, it would allow them to “test the waters” with a lower risk product and then build once an area has demonstrated sufficient demand.

  2. Avatar photo Jonny says:

    I think I get the reasoning behind it, but if they could do 1-2Gbps for £300 and increase the installation costs if required I think they’d clear up – maybe they aren’t doing this on purpose because having 10Gb as the entry point ensures a certain level of client ability and regulates the engineering demands.

    1. Avatar photo J says:

      Vorboss do 1G £350/mo no setup. Ask their sales team. The 10Gb minimum is a marketing gimmick.

  3. Avatar photo 10BaseT says:

    “In the not too distant future, a 100Gbps line will be the norm” – because he said that. Meanwhile I moved homes and migrated from 80/20 VDSL2 to 450/450 ff and clearly I can tell that having 3 tvs streaming a time from three different services – 100/50Mbps is enough. Yes, we both work from home and we used to on 80/20 during the pandemic.

    1. Avatar photo Matt says:

      Working from home doesn’t make you a business with hundreds of staff on the same site??

      Which is what Vorboss are targeting, and where their expected demand comes from.

    2. Avatar photo 10BaseT says:

      Most of the ISPs in the UK connected to Linx or Lonap exchange points have way below 100Gbps ports, most if not all of them selling to business users too. Vorboss itself has 100Gbps in Linx and 400Gbps in Lonap. Looking at Amazon, Microsoft and Google memberships in both exchange points, Google and Microsoft are present in Lonap having 100Gbps and 200Gbps links respectively. They do have multiple 100Gbps ports in Linx but this is where Vorboss has 100Gbps only. Either a misselling or overbooking at the moment 😀 Not to say that none of the above will let you utilize 100Gbps to download/upload data and unlikely that will change.

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