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29 February 2024
Ben Hustwayte, Head of Consumer Business at Gigabit Networks shares his views on the power of modern full fibre infrastructure and what it's like to be a challenger ISP in today's market.
As a relatively new challenger in the UK’s consumer broadband market, Gigabit Networks is dedicated to the delivery of high quality, full fibre internet services. The company started off serving customers in the Midlands, where it recently won the accolade of the region’s ‘Best ISP’. Today, thanks to its partnership with CityFibre, it can serve homes right across the UK. And, in charge of the service quality it provides them, is Ben Hustwayte, Gigabit Networks’ Head of Consumer Business.
Before joining Gigabit Networks, Ben spent over eight years at CityFibre, helping a myriad of ISPs unlock the benefits of CityFibre’s network for both residential and business customers. Still fuelled from his time there, he’s now passionate about ensuring Gigabit Networks provides the quality of service that only an ISP underpinned by modern, full fibre infrastructure can achieve, and raising industry standards in the process.
“Our vision at Gigabit Networks is to be known for providing the highest-quality full fibre broadband services nationwide,” explains Ben. “Delivering incredible customer service is a massive part of this, and for that reason we don’t use legacy infrastructure networks or sell any copper, or part copper services, at all.”
The UK’s retail broadband market is ferociously competitive and notoriously difficult to enter fresh, let alone establish meaningful market share. Like many smaller ISPs though, Gigabit Networks chose CityFibre to help it tackle these barriers and since then has been thriving in the market and making a tangible difference to the customers it serves.
“Easy access to ever-growing footprint and keeping prices low so that we can compete with the big brands, is vital,” continues Ben. “We must also ensure profitability as a business and provide the best service for our customers. It’s a very delicate balance.”
Using CityFibre’s network and products (as well as some other smaller altnet footprints), Gigabit Networks currently offers speeds of up‑to‑900Mbps (downlink and uplink) to UK homes. It also provides an entry level service of up to 160Mbps, which enables customers to access to the benefits of full fibre for as little as £25 a month.
“Our relationship with CityFibre enables us to provide fantastic value for money, but it’s their desire to continually improve that really makes the difference. They’re always up for helping us build something that works for us both, whether that’s in terms of service, commercial propositions, or effective targeting.”
Ben is adamant that while competitive pricing is often what wins a residential customer, it’s service and simplicity that retains them.
“For many, the internet either works or it doesn’t and the end-to-end in-home experience really matters. Consumers don’t need tech talk, they just want smooth installs, reliable connections and great support from people who care, especially when attracting high-end users to top-of-the-range broadband packages.”
The age-old adage of ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’ also drives the whole team at Gigabit Networks.
“A physical install is often the first time our customers see a human. Typically, it’s the CityFibre brand they see, but how well it goes influences how they feel about us. That’s why we only work with network partners who care about the quality of that interaction as much as we do”.
For Ben, one of the best things about CityFibre is the very high percentage of good quality, Right First Time installs.
“When we install a customer on CityFibre’s network we know that 95 times out of 100, it’ll be smooth sailing. And, if there’s an issue, it’ll be fixed quickly.”
This matters because, aside from the obvious effect on word of mouth, a failed installation experience or an unreliable broadband connection not only runs the risk of losing a customer, it can also result in the non-return of Gigabit Networks’ in-premises equipment.
“Routers are a significant upfront cost. We ship them before an install takes place and recover the cost over time. Every lost router due to a failed install has a negative impact on our business case, but with CityFibre this rarely happens.”
Gigabit Networks started as a Midlands-focused company selling full-fibre services to businesses, before choosing to use CityFibre’s local handover facilities to expand into the consumer broadband market across five cities. In September 2023, the company then onboarded to CityFibre’s national access product, enabling them to serve customers across its nationwide network from a single handover point. Now, as CityFibre continues to expand, Gigabit Networks can likewise extend their service reach.
“Having millions of Ready For Service premises to target from the outset is one of the best things about CityFibre, allowing us to drive our volumes a lot easier”, explains Ben.
For this same reason, the team is also excited about CityFibre’s participation in Project Gigabit.
“CityFibre is now building full fibre into areas that only ISPs on their network will be able to serve. For us that’s a chance to give some of today’s poorest served premises their first taste of the best connectivity available, and to earn their loyalty for years. We’re also interested at the potential for CityFibre to grow through acquisition. Any prospect of them being able to switch on access to hundreds of thousands of new premises in a short space of time is hugely exciting”.
Ben is the first to admit that being a challenger ISP is not for the feint hearted. The value of broadband connections is being squeezed all the time through aggressive pricing and promotions, but the opportunity to stand out from the crowd still exists.
“Customers are moving in their thousands to companies like us who are offering something different and championing for better,” he says. “The fact that they’re willing to back new horses to try and get more is exciting and proves a place for companies like us in the ecosystem. And, with CityFibre by our side, we get to keep breaking new ground and lead the way through service excellence.”
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