A new UK Community Interest Company (CIC) called Pure Fibre Housing, which is part of the new i4 Technology Group that also encompasses commercial operator British Fibre Networks, has announced that it’s deploying 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband to two new build home developments in North Wales.
The operator, which is essentially providing “full fibre” infrastructure to housing associations on a non-profit basis, is working alongside one of North Wales’ largest Housing Associations (Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd) on this rollout in the Meirionnydd area.
The two developments are however extremely small and include Criccieth, which consists of just 10 houses, and Tywyn, which will comprise only 4 houses and 8 flats. Hardly much of a blip on the national connectivity map but everybody has to start somewhere. The new build properties are due to be handed over to tenants, complete with pure fibre connectivity, sometime this month.
According to PFH, the UK housing market is currently “suffering the effects of misleading fibre claims, with many so-called ‘fibre connected’ homes still partially connected to copper links. Even small copper connections can drastically reduce internet speeds, with some of the infrastructure dating back to the Victorian era.” Naturally they hope to change that.
The press release also states that the new infrastructure will be able to offer tenants a choice of ISPs from the “broadband market … at more competitive prices,” although sadly none are named in the press release.
Elfed Thomas, Founder of Pure Fibre Housing, said:
“A good internet connection is becoming as essential to a home as running water. Typically, housing association homes have been neglected in the full-fibre rollout, despite clear evidence that nationwide digital inclusion will have a positive impact on the UK economy, as well as its ability to improve people’s lives.
We want to ensure that everyone throughout the UK can take full advantage of what good connectivity can offer; whether that be to digitally upskill, engage in e-learning, access online banking, or just do their weekly shop. Our partnership with Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd has allowed us to get off to a flying start in achieving that.”
Huw Evans, CCG Development and New Builds Manager, added:
“We are really proud to be one of the first housing associations in Wales to offer our tenants full fibre options. In this day and age, we depend so much on the internet to assist us in so many aspects of our lives, and providing our tenants, especially in rural areas with excellent connectivity, speed, value for money and reliability is something we are really proud of.
It was great to be able to work with a local company, who are based literally down the road from our Bangor office. We look forward to working with them on future developments as we aim to build 550 units across north Wales over the next three years.”
A quick check via companies house shows that the i4 Technology Group was formerly called the BFN Group Limited, until it changed its name on 5th May to i4. Some readers may recall that Elfed Thomas, founder of PFH, is also the CEO of British Fibre Networks. The i4 name does however hark back to the defunct i3 Group and we’re thus a little bit surprised they chose it.
One of the statistics used in the press release was also quite out-of-date, noting that only “4% of UK homes have pure fibre connectivity” (the latest Ofcom data says it’s available to 7%) and that the current UK average speeds are “46.2Mbps for downloads … 6.2Mbps for uploads” (today’s latest report says 54.2Mbps download and 7.2Mbps upload).
Meanwhile BFN has reiterated their ambition to build a new 1Gbps capable open access pure fibre optic broadband network (FTTP/H) for over 35% of new build homes by 2021, although that means they’d have to take FTTP market share (in new builds) away from bigger rivals like Openreach, Virgin Media, Hyperoptic, GTC / OFNL and others. Only time can tell how successful that will be.