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400 villages left in the slow lane by BDUK are begging Gigaclear for fibre

Gigaclear claims that hundreds of villages are chasing it for gigabit fibre, in spite of the Governement’s rural broadband expansion. 

The rural ISP that specialises in creating hyper-local FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) networks is seeking investment to help grow its business, as it cannot keep up with demand. 

Gigaclear’s business model is based on supplying villages, towns and business parks who want fibre but aren’t due to get a broadband upgrade under the Government’s BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) scheme, which will cover 95 per cent of the UK by 2017. 

Optical fibres, similar to the ones used in lights, can be used to transmit data over longer distances and at higher bandwidths than copper.
Optical fibres, similar to the ones used in lights, can be used to transmit data over longer distances and at higher bandwidths than copper.

Most of the remaining five per cent or areas not covered reside in predominantly rural areas – the kind of areas Gigaclear is specifically targeting. 

Speaking to the FT [paywall] Chief executive Matthew Hare said: “There is huge demand – we have 400 communities chasing us for our services. Every day we are approached by more wanting us to come and build. 

“This is a very capital-intensive business and needs new funding in future. It’s a question of how fast we can scale up the business, not a demand problem.” 

Gigaclear wants to have 10,000 premises covered by its various networks by the end of 2014. 
It’s currently busy connecting properties in Underriver, Kent, the village of Northmoor in Oxfordshire and its now eyeing up villages on the outskirts of Peterborough. Gigaclear also supplies broadband to rural Rutland through its own Rutland Telecoms subsidiary. 

It’s not all been plain sailing for the plucky ISP. Following Wiltshire Council’s decision to expand its BDUK footprint, Gigaclear decided to pull out of a project that would have connected five villages to gigabit fibre instead of slower FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) lines. 

In order to feed the 10,000, Gigaclear is reaching out to investment firms like CF Woodford, which is giving Gigaclear £7.8 million to build 25 new networks by the end of the year. By 2016, Gigaclear want to have connected 50,000 properties with fibre. 

Fellow pure fibre ISP Hyperoptic was able to launch services in six cities following a cash injection from billionaire George Soros and other investors. Hyperoptic wants to have 500,000 customers signed up by 2018. 

Meanwhile, the Government has selected a number of companies to trial a number of technologies including FTTP and satellite broadband to look into providing that five per cent of properties not covered by BDUK with something better suited for 21st Century online life. 

By the time the Government decides which technologies might be best for the five per cent, villagers might have voted with their wallets and signed up for Gigaclear. 


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