Backwaters in rural England getting non-BT gigabit broadband

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Rural English villages that almost nobody has heard of are set to receive broadband connections that are nearly fifty times faster than the national average.

Baywood, Wooton, Dry, Sunningwell, Boars Hill and others will benefit from infrastructure being rolled out by small telco Gigaclear, which is laying fibre to the premises in rural Oxfordshire.

The service covers 40 villages, representing 23 communities, with another 50 being rolled out in a second wave.

Users get a Genexis router which gives four Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi. It runs at line speed of 1Gbps with packages from a symmetric 50Mbs to 1Gbps being controlled remotely. The Basic package costs £38.80 a month with the full fat package costing £72.00.

Links from the Gigaclear cabinets to the backbone are 10Gb and the company has multiple 10Gb links to various infrastructure providers including Vodafone and Virgin – but not BT Openreach.

Local estate agent Simon McConnell told El Reg that while he’d not seen an increase in property prices as a result of the gigabit broadband, it did affect some people’s buying decisions. “It’s put some places on the map,” he said.

Gigaclear has a business model of looking for the holes in Virgin and BT coverage and building to fill in the gaps. Virgin has a similar policy but is only looking at those areas which are close to its networks, principally in towns and cities.

Head of sales and marketing at Gigaclear Joe Frost explained to El Reg that it is a pure broadband service. The company does not provide telephony, mobile or video streaming services, but that can be bought over the Gigaclear network from other ISPs, or customers could sign up for services such as Netflix.

The Financial Times (paywall) has reported that growth is being funded by an investment of £30m from the Prudential and Neil Woodford.

The areas which can currently get the Gigaclear service are:

Appleton (Oxon), Beckley (Oxon), Erbistock (Wrexham), Farmoor (Oxon), Forest Hill (Oxon), Frilford (Oxon), Fyfield (Oxon), Godden Green (Kent), Hambleton (Rutland), Kingston Bagpuize (Oxon), Lyddington (Rutland), Northmoor (Oxon), Southmoor Standlake, Stanton Harcourt (Oxon), Uppingham, (Rutland), Woodeaton (Oxon) and Wootton.

Gigaclear is currently experimenting with an Icotera multi-gigabit home hub. Meanwhile, BT is talking about 500Mbps with g.fast and has stopped rolling out, or even taking orders for, its Infinity 4 330Mbps service. ®

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