Rural Broadband Access Archive

Telephone Interview–Matthew Hare (Gigaclear)

Cotswolds hill and village picture courtesy of Glenluwin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Cotswolds – part of the big 10000 for Gigaclear

Previously, I did an interview with Matthew Hare from Gigaclear shortly after they rolled out fibre-to-the-cabinet next-generation broadband service to Lyddington and fibre-to-the-premises broadband to Hambledon, both small villages in Rutland, UK. This was about small rural areas being enabled for real broadband service rather than second-rate broadband service.

Fibre-optic connection pots in ground - press picture courtesy of Gigaclear

10,000 of these connection pots for the fibre-optic broadband installed

Now Gigaclear has covered 50 small villages around the Oxfordshire and other areas of the UK with their service passing 10,000 properties. From this interview, Matthew had mentioned that 4000 households and businesses had bitten the bullet and taken up the next-generation broadband service that Gigaclear offers.

Digging up a village street - press picture courtesy of Gigaclear

When this is happening in your village, the broadband service quality becomes better

There have been some benefits across the board with the arrival of these next-generation fibre-based broadband services.

For businesses and other income-generating activities, the next-generation broadband services have been valued as an enabler. One of the benefits that has been noticed was a reduction in traffic levels because of a reduced need to travel to work which has become important for the villages that exist within commuting distance of the large towns. Knowledge workers like accountants, consultants and lawyers also benefited because of their increased bandwidth that is available to them at home so they can run their practice or business more effectively.

Fibre optic cable trench in village lane - press picture courtesy of Gigaclear

Fibre-optic cable laid alongside a lane to a premises in a village

The food, beverage and accommodation industries have valued these rollouts in a few different ways. Initially they saw the increased bandwidth as a way to improve the Wi-Fi-based public Internet service they provide as an amenity and having a consistently-good experience with this service attracts customers. In the interview, Matthew highlighted Oxford Country Cottages who sell this as a significant amenity for their self-catering holiday cottages.  I sent a follow-up email to Oxford Country Cottages regarding their experience with this service and what they identified as a core benefit was the business guests who were returning to these cottages because of the guest-access Wi-Fi that was served by Gigaclear’s fibre-to-the-premises service. This was something that the business guests were finding that was “beyond the norm” for guest-access Wi-Fi networks.

This leads on to the feasibility to use cloud-based business systems which avoids the need to maintain servers on the premises and is considered an essential business tool.

The local communities have benefited from the broadband deployments due to increased cohesion. This was even evident in the initial stages of each project because of the initial curiosity surrounding the projects and that the visibility of the works taking place meant that something good is happening for their village. Some of the townsfolk in each community may want to preserve the status quo but more of them wanted an Internet service better than what the were being provided with.

There have been anecdotal reports of local property values increasing due to the arival of fibre broadband as I have covered before but Gigaclear haven’t seen this as evidence for themselves with any of their rollouts.

But where Gigaclear stands when it comes to providing Internet service is that they will exist as a pureplay broadband provider. That is where their business is about providing an Internet service alone rather than offering a voice telephony or pay-TV service.

Gigaclear are also operating this infrastructure as an infrastructure provider to serve these communities. This is to allow competing retail-level Internet service providers to include the villages in their footprint if they wish to do so.

BT are saying that they are doing the right thing when they are covering Britain’s rural areas but there needs to be a lot more work done to provide a proper level of service for these communities. A lot of these issues aren’t just about adding the necessary equipment but more about making sure that the wiring to the customer’s door is working properly.

What is showing up from the interview is that Gigaclear are putting the pedal to the metal when it comes to deploying infrastructure in to rural communities in order to provide a broadband service that would be considered the norm for big business in the city.

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Gigaclear hits the big 10,000


Cotswolds hill and village picture courtesy of Glenluwin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Cotswolds – part of the big 10000 for Gigaclear

Gigaclear races past 10,000 premises passed mark | ThinkBroadband

From the horse’s mouth


Press Release

My Comments

I have been following Gigaclear’s efforts in making sure that rural areas in Britain have access to real broadband. Think of places like Epping Forest, the Cotswolds, Underriver in Kent along with a few Oxfordshire villages gaining real broadband that attracts city dwellers wanting to “get away from it all”.

This effort started off in 2010 when Gigaclear was founded by Matthew Hare in 2010 with a focus towards real broadband in rural areas. The first effort was in Lyddington, Rutland where there was a VDSL2-based fibre-to-the-cabinet setup serving that village, then there was a fibre-to-the-premises setup in Hambledon shortly after that.

I did a Skype interview with Matthew Hare regarding the impact these broadband developments had on these towns in the early days of Gigaclear’s existence.  Through the interview, I had found that there was real interest in rural broadband with at least a third of Lyddington subscribing to the fibre-to-the-cabinet rollout and two-thirds of Hambledon pre-contracted to the fibre-to-the-premises rollout at the time of the interview.

As well, these deployments were satisfying business reality by allowing a “country-house” hotel in Hambledon to put forward a fully-functional public-access Wi-Fi Internet service as a drawcard feature; along with allowing small businesses to think of cloud-based software as a way of feeling “grown up”. It also encompassed the fact that an increasing number of villagers were using their computers for some form of income-generating work, whether to telecommute or to run a business or practise a profession from home. This underscored the need for reliable Internet service.

The interview also underscored Gigaclear’s rural-broadband effort as being a real commercial effort in a competitive market rather than philanthropic effort. This is because Gigaclear were coming through as an infrastructure competitor to BT Openreach for these rural areas.

Gigaclear found that the symmetrical FTTP technology was found to be more scalable than other technologies and this led to future-proof setups which can come about as a village or town grows. I would see this underscored more when the same village or town or one nearby acquires a larger employer and more people move in to these communities to work for the employer or work for new shops, schools and other employers that come on the scene to support a larger community.

There has been 40% takeup across the 36 communities in 5 different counties where this service has been deployed with a focus on the slower underserved communities. For that matter, construction activity surrounding a fibre-to-the-premises rollout piques interest because of the impending arrival of an Internet service that realistically serves local needs.

Keep up the good work with covering more villages, hamlets and small towns with real broadband Internet service, Gigaclear!

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Rural-growth campaigns need to factor in broadband and mobile


A house in an Australian country town - telecommunications needs to be factored in for rural areas if there is pressure for them to grow

A house in an Australian country town – telecommunications needs to be factored in for rural areas if there is pressure for them to grow

Government to Build More Rural Homes, But What of Broadband? |

My Comments

The UK Chancellor, George Osborne, puts forward a growth and productivity plan for UK’s rural areas, an activity which other countries call for in order to “spark up” their similar low-density areas. This may also involve encouraging a larger employer to set up shop in or near a rural area or nurturing a tourist area for increased capacity and attraction. Similarly a town with a tourist attraction may see economic growth based on that tourist attraction.

But even if the government doesn’t call for this, these rural areas continue to attract the “tree-change” culture where people who were in urban areas shift out to these rural areas because of attractions like beauty, tranquility, ability to know locals easily and the like. This also encompasses an increase in small businesses operating in these areas, whether to serve the local area or larger areas. Let’s not forget rural areas that exist on the periphery of an urban area falling victim to urban sprawl as the neighbouring urban area expands.

This is something that typically encompasses an increase in housing density in these areas such as subdivision of land, creation of new housing communities or expansion of existing housing areas.. But there is the need for improvements in local (private and public) transport, infrastructure, education and the like which also will include a requirement to see local telecommunications services like broadband Internet and mobile (cellular) telephony be brought to urban standards.

With the telecommunications issue, this may be sorted with extension of telephone lines from the town-based exchange in to the new developments but this can limit bandwidth for DSL-based broadband services. Such situations may call upon a need to re-architect the telecommunications infrastructure that serves the town and neighbouring communities, whether to have separate exchanges or distribution points for each community. In the case of a next-generation broadband rollout, it may call for a fibre-based fixed-line rather than a fixed-wireless deployment for the town and those communities.

Similarly, there will have to be the issue of mobile coverage which may be contentious ion some areas due to the perceived health effects of electromagnetic radiation. This could be approached again through re-architecting the mobile base station layout with use of more low-powered base stations in denser neighbourhoods.

So if there are efforts to increase capacity for a rural neighbourhood or factor in a change of direction for these neighbourhoods, the telecommunications issue may have to be factored as much as housing density and other infrastructure.

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Rural Buckinghamshire acquires more fibre-optic broadband


Aylesbury Vale countryside picture courtesy of Adam Bell (FlyingDodo)

Aylesbury Vale – to benefit from real broadband

Aylesbury Vale Broadband Project Starts Rollout of Fibre Optic Network |

From the horse’s mouth

Aylesbury Vale Broadband

Project Page

Press Release – At long last we’re laying the fibre

My Comments

Two villages in Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire have been reached for real next-generation broadband thanks to the Aylesbury Vale Broadband project.

North Marston (population 800) and Granborough (population 600) have been the first to benefit from this technology which will primarily be fibre-to-the-premises. But the Aylesbury Vale Broadband Project is taking a mixed-technology approach with fibre-to-the-cabinet if it isn’t feasible to roll out the better technology. Once these villages are proven as successful for this project, other Aylesbury Vale communities will be looked at for covering with next-generation broadband.

This is a complementary project that will focus on areas that are missed out on by the Broadband Delivery UK and the Connected Counties rural-broadband programmes. A lot of the effort is driven by volunteer labour courtesy of the local villagers. There is public funding from the New Homes

Once the service is fully active, the cost to join will be at least GBP£25 per month along with a GBP£150 installation fee. This will include the supply of a wireless router that supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology to be positioned at the home network’s Internet “edge” while the service has a 12-month minimum term contract. The full-fibre services will run initially at 300Mbps but are capable of Gigabit speeds.

The Aylesbury Vale Broadband project is one of many examples in the UK that I have read about where local effort and initiative has brought a rural area out of the digital backwaters and drawn it to something that satisfies today’s realities. This is being seen as of importance when we deal with the countryside being a small-business hub or attracting people who have had enough of the city life.

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A French community shows that impending next-generation broadband service can improve ADSL service

Article – French language / Langue Française Brittany flag

Montée en débit en ADSL dans la commune de Sibiril en Bretagne | DegroupNews

My Comments

In a lot of rural and peri-urban areas, even ADSL internet service can be substandard as I have witnessed a few times. This is typically aggravated by established telecommunications entities that underinvest in the infrastructure that serves these areas and this infrastructure is not conducive to proper performance for any service based on DSL technologies.

In Brittany, France, the community in Sibril have decided to take action to have their telephony infrastructure improved before the arrival of an impending fibre-based next-generation broadband service. This effort has paid off with the bandwidth for 259 households in  the territory being improved to nearly 20Mbps where it was in the order of 0.5Mbps to 2Mbps. It has made the service fit for IP-based video services  to Full HD specification along with quicker downloading for even large files.

What Orange have done is to install cabinets closer to the affected locations and run fibre-optic cable to these cabinets, in a similar vein to a fibre-to-the-cabinet setup which implements VDSL2 technology. But they have deployed ADSL2 DSLAMs in the cabinets to assure continuity of ADSL2 service with existing Liveboxes. As well, the customers’ telephone cables are routed to the communications cabinet rather than the main telephone exchange.

This technique comes in to its own with country areas that have a village, hamlet or town which services a collection of smaller communities, something that is taking place in a lot of rural areas. It also comes in to its own with country towns that are growing and the telephony infrastructure needs to be re-worked. Here, a telecommunications cabinet could be installed closer to the various communities and it houses DSLAMs and similar “on-ramp” equipment but has enough rackspace to cope with a few large-property subdivisions that increases the number of customers. Then this cabinet is linked back to the main exchange using a fibre-optic connection while the premises’ telephony and ADSL services are terminated at the cabinet.

There is a greater chance of increased communications security for these areas because if there is equipment breakdown or power failure in a particular cabinet, other areas aren’t affected by the failure. This could also lead to the provision of battery backup in those cabinets for the local telephone services with this requiring a reduced energy need.

At least this comes across as a near-term solution to providing real broadband to densely-populated country areas or to cater for country areas that take a different more-dense housing character.

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Gigaclear increases their Essex footprint


Epping Forest   © Copyright tim and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence tim [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Epping Forest – to get fibre-to-the-premises Internet

Gigaclear Deal Brings 1Gbps FTTP Broadband to 4,500 Essex Premises | ISPReview

From the horse’s mouth

Superfast Essex (Essex County Council)

Press Release

My Comments

Gigaclear has put their foot in Essex’s door to offer fibre-to-the-premises broadband Internet.

Here, they were selected by the Superfast Essex project team initiated by the Essex County Council as a break from BT deploying most next-generation Internet projects in the county. It is part of the new “Rural Challenge” effort covering the Epping Forest area and receives funding from public and private sources with public money coming from the UK Government and from local government in the form of the Epping Forest District Council and the Essex County Council. The private source of funding comes primarily from Gigaclear.

They will deploy fibre-to-the-premises next-generation broadband to 4,500 properties in the Epping Forest area which will encompass Fyfield, Stapleford, Tawney, Bobbingworth and closely-located communities. The project will get off the ground in November 2015 and be complete by December 2016 if things go to plan and Gigaclear were awarded GBP£7.5m to have it running. As regular readers will know, Gigaclear’s fibre-to-the-premises infrastructure supports the same bandwidth for both uploading and downloading and they are capable of offering Gigabit transfer speeds for the Internet services.

If this project is deemed successful, the Essex County Council could consider covering more of that county with the fibre-to-the-home technology courtesy of Gigaclear. The wider Superfast Essex project is still based on FTTC fiber-copper technology provided by BT Openreach and this covers 87% of the county.

A good question that is worth raising is whether these rollouts could technically and legally support infrastructure-level competition including allowing one provider to provide infrastructure for FTTP broadband while another can provide infrastructure for fibre-copper broadband services. It also encompasses whether a retail provider would be able to have access to one network or all of the networks and I would find it worth looking at how the French have been rolling out fibre broadband on an infrastructure-competition basis and is something that Ofcom could investigate when it comes to assuring a sustainably-competitive best-value Internet service for urban-living and rural-living Britons.

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European Commission gives financial thumbs-up for Germany’s rural-broadband efforts


German countryside - By Manfred&Barbara Aulbach (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

European Union provides aid to Germany for real broadband in its rural areas

Euro Commish OKs €3bn German broadband aid scheme | The Register

Further resources – Broadband infrastructure office (German language / Deutsche Sprache)

Previous coverage

Discussions in Germany about how broadband can benefit rural areas

Deutsche Telekom raises isssues about rural broadband in Germany

My Comments

Germany has had a long desire to make sure that rural areas in their Länder (States), especially their Flächlander (Area States) which have these rural areas, were getting real broadband. Now they have been given EUR€3 billion to help them with these efforts.

According to the Website which is administering this aid, Saxony-Anhalt have become the “first cab off the rank” to seek funding for various projects to assure 50Mb broadband over the State. Most of these efforts in the site have been fielded by local governments under the auspices of the Staatskanzlei des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt (the state government for the Saxony-Anhalt state).

Most likely these efforts will take place at the state (Länder} level with help from local government rather than the onus being placed on Berlin. This works better because the state and local governments know what’s going on at the coalface. But Berlin would need to play its part in assuring real competition for broadband Internet service throughout Gernany and not give Deutsche Telekom special favours.

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Gigaclear provides full-fibre Internet to the Cotswolds


Cotswolds hill and village picture courtesy of Glenluwin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

More of the Cotswolds to benefit from real broadband

Gigaclear wins Gloucestershire contract to provide ultrafast broadband  | ThinkBroadband

UPD 1Gbps FTTP Broadband Coming to 6,495 Premises in Gloucestershire UK |

From the horse’s mouth

FasterShire public-private Internet partnership

Press Release

My Comments

The Cotswolds is an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty located south of the centre of England. Because of this characteristic underscored by the rolling hills and the villages that have their buildings built out of the local stonework, it is another of those country areas that attract people who want to move out of the city to the country. It also attracts an artisan culture with a fair bit of local arts and crafts going on.

But what about making sure that these people who live and work in the Cotswolds have access to real Internet service? This problem is being rectified by a partnership between Gigaclear and the FasterShire public-private Internet-service partnership to bring full fibre broadband to the villages of Guiting Power, Chedworth, Whelford, Bilbury and Icomb.

This was initially a British Telecom project which covered Phase 1 of the rollout but the Gigaclear partnership has underscored that BT can’t have a clear run of the Phase 2 contracts. It is based on Gigaclear’s track record with supplying some of the small villages around the Home Counties with a future-proof fibre-to-the-premises broadband service, something regular readers of will be familiar with. It will still complement British Telecom’s efforts in this locale and the goal will be to have the Internet service pass 6,450 premises in the Cotswolds area and will break FasterShire’s goal of 90% broadband coverage.

Geoffrey Clifton Brown, who is the local MP for Cotswolds established an election promise to cover his electorate with real broadband at the door for all of his constituents.

As well, the Gigaclear solution isn’t just about fibre to the premises but also about Internet services with a subscriber-level bandwidth of a Gigabit/second symmetrically this achieving a service that is effectively future-proof for these areas. This also caters for the increasing trend towards video-conferencing and cloud-based computing in both the home and business computing applications.

What I would like to see for Gigaclear to achieve is to provide FTTH not just to new areas but as a competing service for areas that have an FTTC setup provided by BT Openreach so that they can be able to benefit from the higher throughput.

Keep up the good work in providing city-business-grade broadband to rural communities, Gigaclear and FasterShire!

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Claverton assists BT in providing real broadband to that village

Kennet and Avon Canal near Claverton, Bath, Somerset © Copyright Clive Barry and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons LicenceArticle

UPDATE Tiny Village of Claverton co-Funds BT Fibre Broadband Rollout |

From the horse’s mouth

Claverton Parish Council

Broadband rollout web page

My Comments

I have previously covered some community efforts that have taken place in the UK to see real broadband Internet be available in various rural villages such as some of the Gigaclear efforts.

But the 115-strong community in Claverton, a Somerset village just a stone’s throw from Bath, have been the first community of its kind to co-fund British Telecom to establish a “fibre-to-the-cabinet” broadband network to cover that village. Here, BT responded with laying 2 kilometres of underground ducting and 4 kilometres worth of overhead and underground fibre-optic cable. This was terminated with 2 new street cabinets with one delivering regular ADSL and telephony services and the other serving as the fibre off-ramp for the next-gen FTTC broadband of up to 80Mbps.

Previously, the broadband service that covered the Claverton community was a joke with bandwidth of less than 1Mbps. This village was one of those communities that would be considered too small for the UK Government’’s “Broadband Delivery UK” programme and of course too small for commercially-viable rollout.

This was about a community that can work together to get something real done about their broadband service, making the village more viable economically. As well, it was about forcing an incumbent carrier like BT to adapt to the needs of a small community. Similarly, the infrastructure that is laid as a result of servicing Claverton can be used as a thoroughfare to service communities that are further out from there.


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NBN to raise the bandwidth on wireless-broadband


Tarcutta Halfway Motor Inn

Small rural businesses like this motel will benefit from the increase in bandwidth provided through NBN’s fixed-wireless broadband service

NBN Co to trial faster fixed wireless | IT News

From the horse’s mouth

National Broadband Network

Press Release

My Comments

The National Broadband Network is rolling out to most of rural Australia a fixed-wireless broadband service. This is based around towers scattered around the country areas which provide a radio link to a fixed-wireless modem that is installed at the customer’s premises and connected to their network’s router.

This connection has been rated at 25Mbps for the top-tier broadband offering has now had this bandwidth speed raised to 50Mbps down and 20Mbps up for this same package. It is being offered on a trial basis with the goal of having this improvement available in full production in the fourth quarter of the year. These are typically “headline” link speeds that can be achieved under ideal situations.

The goal is to expose to the rural community the kind of speeds most of us who live in urban areas and have properly-behaving ADSL2+ setups take for granted. This would lead to something that would suit most Internet activities that would benefit these communities, well more than an ADSL service provided using a DSLAM at the exchange that is connected to long-run decrepit telephone infrastructure that seems to be the order of the day for these users.

Personally, I would like to know what real improvement will there be for most country properties when the throughput is increased. But I would see this also making Internet real for people living or working in the country.

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