British Fibre Networks (BFN), a newly established full-fibre – or fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) – broadband network builder, has announced its first major deployment in north Wales, where it is working with developer LW Group to connect new-build homes to ultrafast services.
BFN was established in January 2018 by Elfed Thomas, whose previous business, H20 Networks (parts of which now make up FTTP juggernaut CityFibre), found itself at the centre of a four-year court battle after it was exploited by two of its backers in a Bernie Madoff-style Ponzi scheme to fraudulently claim almost £150m.
Four co-conspirators in the scheme were sentenced to a total of 44 years in prison in 2017, but Thomas, who was exonerated at the trial, elected to return to the broadband market, saying he has “unfinished business” after being forced to sell H20 for a token £1 at the height of the scandal.
Thomas’ new venture, BFN, is specifically targeting new-build properties, and has an ambition to connect more than 35% of new homes to full-fibre by 2020. It hopes to work alongside house builders during the construction process to build in fibre cables to each property on a development.
Like CityFibre, BFN will not itself act as an internet service provider (ISP), instead providing a connection and a choice of partner ISPs. However, it will also offer and manage voice over IP (VoiP) systems to enable phone calls to ensure consistent basic connectivity regardless of what ISP the homeowner is using.
“For too long, builders and homeowners have been misled by companies that claim to offer ‘full fibre’, when the last tail of that network is actually copper,” said Thomas.
“Even if the new government proposals for UK-wide full fibre broadband by 2033 come to fruition, the ambiguity around the term will no doubt continue, unless stricter regulations are put in place to prevent misuse of the term.
“Our approach has surpassed government policy, and we aim to add value for housebuilders who can now offer a home with genuine pure fibre connectivity.”
Thomas added: “With our infrastructure, homes will always be connected before the homeowner moves in, so builders will no longer risk disappointing customers. The builders we are working with are ahead of the curve in providing pure fibre connectivity, and we expect many more to follow suit as the benefits to both them and their customers become apparent.”
BFN said that in addition to its current work with LW Group, it will shortly begin work on developments in Cheshire and Liverpool. The firm aims to work with developers of both private and public housing, as well as builders of student accommodation.