Altnet Gigaclear gets funding boost to expand network

Oxfordshire-based fibre broadband provider Gigaclear bags its second institutional shareholder and plans to expand network

Altnet fibre broadband provider Gigaclear, which specialises in providing gigabit-speed FTTP broadband in out-of-the-way locales bypassed by BT, has scored a new funding round of £6.5m as it mounts a fresh challenge to the BDUK hegemony.

The funding has been raised from both existing and new institutional and private shareholders, including the CF Woodford Equity Income Fund, which has added to a previous investment it made in July 2014, while Forward Private Equity becomes its second institutional shareholder.

Gigaclear currently owns and operates 17 rural fibre networks in Oxfordshire, Kent and Rutland, and 20 more currently under construction, but now has several hundred new communities interested in its product, and wants to address these quicker and more effectively.

Gigaclear founder and chief executive Matthew Hare, who set up the firm in 2010 out of a sense of frustration that he was unable to access fast broadband himself, said the company was even more determined to accelerate its delivery of ultrafast 1Gbps broadband.

With strong support from existing and new shareholders, we will meet the record demand we are seeing for our transformational broadband,” said Hare.

“Rural communities across the UK realise that they can leapfrog a whole generation of technology with a new, ultrafast, pure fibre network that can scale to thousands of megabits per second, future-proofing the communities for many, many years and allowing them, even today, to reap benefits not yet available to many towns and cities in the UK.

“We are already putting this new investment to work, building new networks and serving thousands of homes and businesses,” he added.

In the past, Gigaclear has been one of a number of fibre providers to have raised deep-rooted problems with how BT is spending the £1.7bn BDUK fund.

Under its model, Gigaclear does not go up against BT and will not go into communities where state aid is being used to deploy broadband, as it believes it cannot effectively compete in those circumstances.

Last year, the company got deep into the planning stage of a deployment in Wiltshire, but was forced to pull out of the project when Wiltshire County Council listed the villages covered under its scheme as top priorities for BDUK money.

A similar problem has dogged Broadband 4 Rural North (B4RN), which was in the process of installing FTTP in the Lancashire village of Dolphinholme, only to find BT Openreach was sending in engineers to install a fibre cabinet.

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