Matthew Hare to step down after eight years at head of Gigaclear
In the rural areas of the UK the largest full fibre competitor to Openreach is Gigaclear and after 8 years of hard work they have passed some 65,000 premises and have plans to extend to some 350,000 premises by the end of 2021, which is a substantially faster pace of roll-out.
The news that Matthew Hare is to leave the company and has been the CEO since the creation of Gigaclear some eight years ago is a surprise, but it is not that uncommon for founders to move on as companies develop and grow larger, the press release shares no information or quotes from Matthew Hare as to the reason for stepping down but it is possible that he is happy that he has got the company to the position he is in and the recognition of years of hard work at the coal face of the broadband landscape in the form on an OBE means may have some role to play.
We have worked closely with Matthew since our first investment in Gigaclear in 2015 and would like to thank him for the considerable amount he has achieved. The opportunity for Gigaclear remains very exciting and we are fortunate to have in Mike Surrey a proven leader with deep knowledge of the company and its opportunities. We look forward to supporting Mike and the team in delivering the vision of bringing ultrafast, full fibre connectivity to rural Britain.Stephen Nelson, Asset Management Director of Infracapital
Mike Surrey is taking on the role of Interim Chief Executive, a promotion from his current role as Chief Operating Office.
Addressing the striking imbalance in the provision of ultra-fast broadband between urban and rural communities in the UK remains our driving ambition. We are giving the countryside the gigabit advantage they deserve. My number one priority in the near term is to accelerate the pace of full fibre delivery to those communities to which we are committed, and I look forward to working with our stakeholders, our key suppliers and my hugely capable team to deliver upon that ambition.Mike Surrey, Interim Chief Executive
Gigaclear has a lot of work ahead and from the murmurs it is clear that those living and working in the BDUK contract areas are particularly anxious to see deployments visibly progress, the collapse of Carillion earlier in 2018 seems to have had some effect but that will apply to many construction projects.
There are lots of firms aiming to build lots more full fibre in the next few years and they are all chasing the same construction firms to deliver the physical work of pushing/pulling/blowing the fibre from the various core nodes that exist to the many roads and lanes that are in the plans. Complaints about quality of work and re-instatement are all too common and we suspect that the wave of current problems in that area are just the tip of something that will be a much larger issue soon, especially in areas where deadlines to deliver may be approaching. Brexit may also have a negative impact if it restricts the ability for the construction firms to quickly and easily supplement their core workforce with European contractors and the rules of supply and demand could see the costs then increasing and stalling the ambitions to deliver over 15 million premises passed with full fibre in 7 years.
The solution to the problems of lots of road works and paths or verges being disturbed is of course the Ofcom mandated PIA (duct and pole sharing) access product Openreach has to offer, and we are seeing increased use of this, but all too often the Openreach duct and pole topology which has grown organically over many decades will not ideally match what full fibre operators want. Therefore we suspect that PIA is probably going to remain a tactical product e.g. rent duct space to cross a busy road/junction, rather than it simply being a case of pop a few Openreach pavement chamber covers in an area and a day later no-one will be any the wiser than several hundred premises have had FTTP rolled out to them.