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Consumer take-up of Gigaclear fibre broadband exceeds BDUK rates

Ultrafast altnet Gigaclear marks a major milestone in its network roll-out and claims a higher take-up rate for its FTTP product than BT is seeing on the Openreach FTTC network

Ultrafast broadband supplier Gigaclear has now passed 10,000 premises in 36 villages and hamlets around the UK with its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network, and says it is seeing around 40% of those properties signing up as customers.

This compares with a take-up rate averaging 16.8% across all 44 Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) contracts as of August 2015, suggesting that where FTTP broadband is being made available, consumers are far more likely to buy it than they are to buy an Openreach-supplied fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) service. However, it should be noted that the BDUK roll-out is not entirely composed of FTTC.

TalkTalk, which is currently test driving an FTTP joint venture with Sky and CityFibre in the suburbs of York, is also targeting take-up rates of around 40% for its product.

Gigaclear’s network is built in parallel to the existing copper network and is already able to deliver gigabit speeds of up to 40 times faster than the current UK average, keeping families in remote parts of the UK connected and enabling local businesses to thrive.

“We have made fantastic progress this year already delivering ultrafast broadband to more than twice the number of properties than we did last year,” said chief executive Matthew Hare.

“The additional networks currently in construction, plus our significant pipeline of new networks, clearly demonstrates the huge level of demand in rural areas for the unique service Gigaclear provides. The FTTP technology we deploy is more scalable than any other broadband infrastructure, future-proofing these areas of the UK.”

Over the summer, Gigaclear was awarded its first BDUK contracts as part of the second phase of the roll-out, targeting a number of properties in disconnected parts of Berkshire, the Cotswolds and Essex.

Collectively, Gigaclear is set to invest up to £28.5m in the three contracts, which will pass 11,700 properties in Berkshire, 6,500 in the Cotswolds and 4,500 in Essex, more than doubling the size of its current network.

However, its expansion plans look set to bring it increasingly into contact – and conflict – with BT. Speaking at Broadband World Forum in London, BT’s managing director of next generation access, Bill Murphy, said BT was increasingly confident that it could now better address the needs of small communities left out of BDUK.

He said BT had helped 70 remote villages – such as Fell End in Cumbria – in such circumstances, passing 20,000 premises to date, adding: “If we were an altnet, we would be the biggest.

“Because of the confidence we’ve built up working with these communities we’re now pushing this nationwide. Hundreds of communities have come to us,” said Murphy.

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