An interview with:

Jarlath Finnegan

CEO, Giganet

Why is Giganet building their own FTTH?

An Interview with Jarlath Finnegan, CEO, GigaNet
July 2022, London

Ahead of his talk at Broadband World Forum at Network X this October, we got the chance to ask a few questions to the new CEO of Giganet.

Jarlath Finnegan was appointed CEO earlier this year for the almost 20 year-old firm who are determined to offer an alternative solution to homes either left in the cold by the traditional players or dissatisfied with their services.

He covers what Giganet's objectives are, why they are building their own FTTH as well as what he sees as the main challenge AltNets face in the current market.

Tell us some more about you but also Giganet, its business model and objectives?  

Giganet specialises in full fibre connectivity for homes and businesses across the UK. With almost two decades of experience in business communications, the company formally launched its Giganet brand in 2018, and today reaches over 8 million premises across the country. In April 2021 the business was acquired by Fern Trading Ltd (advised by Octopus Investments) and a new management team was put in place along with £250 million funding package. The funding has enabled us to build a high capacity best in class national core network, deploy our own FTTP business and residential network and put in place proficient systems to harness the FTTP networks of Cityfibre and Openreach, all of this  accelerates our growth, and enables us to focus on our vision of being the best ISP.  

With a vision to be the best ISP in the UK, known for best-in-class customer service and internet service delivery, we are committed to building a better future by connecting the UK to reliable, future-proof full fibre, supported by expert and exemplary customer service, and clear and honest pricing - we are in the business of connecting customers. 

From a personal perspective, I bring to Giganet a career spanning 20 years on both the design and build and customer service sides of the industry.  This gives me a unique perspective on how the telecoms space has evolved over recent decades, as well as the challenges it faces today.
 

What were Giganet’s motivations for building their own FTTH? 

Our goal is to be a nationwide provider of fast, reliable full fibre internet services.  

To enable this, we have recently become the fourth ISP to extend our full fibre service offering across CityFibre’s nationwide footprint. This has enabled us to expand our commitment from an initial 27 locations to 285 cities, towns and villages across the UK. At the same time, we are also providing services via Openreach’s nationwide footprint. 

Building our own full fibre network is the final piece of the puzzle and made possible by our funding in place. We will connect over half a million customers across urban and rural UK, servicing previously forgotten homes and areas, ensuring families experience the necessary bandwidth to cope with current internet demands.  

This will provide these communities with future-proofed full fibre infrastructure, as well as the opportunity to secure a service from Giganet, complete with clear and honest pricing, no exit fees and no surprise price increases. 

What is the biggest challenge that you as an AltNet face in today’s market? 

The greatest challenges we face is each other within the industry.   

By its nature, the UK telecoms landscape is both intricate and interconnected, and this often means doing business with those that have competing or conflicting commercial agendas.  

We need to work quickly, while still delivering quality, in order to get customers on board, keep them happy and deliver return on investment. This is a difficult balance to strike when you depend on others to provide services or connect the dots hence why we are building out to remove these dependencies as much as possible to ensure a better and secure customer journey.  

Alternative network providers and service providers will always have to work that bit harder. But we’re confident our model makes us resilient. Service comes first and our core network deployment programme is a major piece of work and makes us different to our competitors as the focus is always about the customer and our decision making is based working from the customer back. This focus on building a superior service infrastructure reduces our dependence on others while giving us the technological edge over many of our peers.
 

How do you see the role of AltNets in the UK market changing as more and more FTTH begins to be rolled out?  

Today, access to fast, reliable broadband is as essential to households as access to water and energy – so many functions of our everyday lives depend on it. So, after decades of under investment, shoddy customer service, and lack of competition, the recent acceleration in full fibre infrastructure investment by alternative networks and providers has given the UK telecoms and connectivity market a much-needed shake, which is great news for consumers. 

This future-proofing endeavour requires a diverse and competitive independent offering and can only benefit from the challenger mindset that Altnet’s bring to the table. As the sector doubles in size and benefits from continued growth, this can only help to drive competition, improve standards and ultimately bring more choice to consumers. 

We are also confident in the sector’s ability to thrive. We are on track to connect 500,000 customers over the next 3 years and our success to date has led to us being named Overall Fibre Provider of the Year at the inaugural UK Fibre Awards 2022. 

At Giganet, we see our role as being to challenge the status quo with an offering that’s grounded in honesty and simplicity. As homes and businesses turn to independent providers, we pride ourselves on our flexible contracts, and our promise to abolish exit fees and mid-contract price rises, as consumers continue to feel the pinch of rising living costs.
 

What are you most looking forward to at Network X? 

At Network X, I’m excited to be joining the panel on ‘regulation, governance, investment, and consolidation – how will external factors impact fibre rollout’. Whilst competition is vital for the sector, so is collaboration and knowledge sharing so I’m keen to hear what my industry peers and other commentators have to say on these crucial issues – all of which will undoubtedly shape the market going forward and separate the winners from the losers.  

I’m also looking forward to having a platform for getting Giganet’s perspective across and giving altnets and alternative providers like us a voice at this crucial time. We have a leading role to play in driving a better outcome for consumers – on price, service quality and customer experience – so it is crucial that we have a chance to be heard and help shape the continued maturation and development of the UK fibre connectivity landscape as the nation moves closer to UK-wide full fibre coverage.