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Gigaclear unlocks potential of rural communities with Telehouse

Gigaclear unlocks potential of rural communities with Telehouse

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To succeed in its mission of unlocking the potential of rural communities, Gigaclear collaborated with Telehouse. Gabriel Yepes, Head of Networks, Gigaclear, discusses its need to establish a presence in a well-connected data centre in London to offer exceptionally fast speeds and reliable full fibre broadband to rural homes and businesses. We learn how the organisation’s core data centre in Telehouse can now support its expansion plans with ease.

Gigaclear is an award-winning and privately funded rural provider of ultrafast broadband, on a mission to unlock the potential of poorly-connected communities across the UK. Quickly becoming the country’s leading fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) provider, Gigaclear builds networks through both the Government-subsidised Broadband Delivery UK programme (BDUK) and through commercial investment.

Unlike mainstream broadband service providers which rely on copper-based, fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) networks, Gigaclear uses a specialist state-of-the-art fibre network which can be brought right up to the boundary of a property. This allows Gigaclear to deliver faster and seamless end-to-end connectivity and high availability in areas that are often underserved by major providers.

Gigaclear was established in 2010 as a fibre network builder targeting rural areas. From its first network in Appleton, Oxfordshire, completed in 2012, Gigaclear’s full-fibre broadband network today extends over 22 counties across the south-west, the Midlands and south-east, making available speeds up to 900Mb to more than 300,000 premises across 650 rural communities. As the UK’s largest rural AltNet, Gigaclear is planning to continue investing in hard-to-reach locations and achieve its fully-funded build target of 500,000 premises by the end of 2023.

Challenge

To offer exceptionally fast speeds and reliable full fibre broadband to rural homes and businesses, Gigaclear needed to establish a presence in a well-connected data centre in London. For the leading rural AltNet, high levels of connectivity to business-critical partners and major content service providers was paramount to bridge the country’s digital divide and allow customers in underserviced areas to stream every channel, show and app over Wi-Fi.

Aside from needing an interconnected location to host its core network environment, Gigaclear also required geo-diversity from its second data centre to mitigate the risk of location-based disruptions and provide maximum uptime and always-on availability to customers. In addition, high-grade security and cyber-resilience was a key factor when searching for a colocation partner to ensure compliance in a highly regulated telecommunications industry. Like any other UK telecoms and broadband provider, Gigaclear comes under the watchful eye of Ofcom, hence it must meet strict regulations and ensure strong security controls.

With ambitious plans to expand its network, Gigaclear needed a data centre provider that could facilitate its growth and future-proof operations, as well as eliminate the need to relocate for years to come. It also wanted to partner with a data centre colocation provider that would support its sustainability targets.

“We needed a secure and resilient environment,” said Gabriel Yepes, Head of Networks, Gigaclear. “We needed a colocation service provider that had really good connections with all of our potential partners and content providers. And we didn’t want to be constrained by space, power and accommodation in the future. Telehouse ticks all of those boxes.”

Solution

Gigaclear decided it wanted to be connected to the Telehouse London Docklands ecosystem, a hotspot for ISPs and content service providers.

Since 2015, the AltNet has been hosting its core network infrastructure inside the Telehouse North Two and East facilities, including Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) routers, and benefitting from the network-to-network (NNI) private peering between core partners.

Having access to over 900 connectivity partners in Telehouse London Docklands, Gigaclear has been able to facilitate vast amounts of crucial interconnections to providers like Netflix, Amazon and Google, to name a few. This provides Gigaclear customers with ultra-fast broadband speeds and unmissable video streaming entertainment without the worry of buffering or interruptions.

At the start of the relationship with Telehouse in 2015, it was already apparent that the AltNet needed a colocation facility with room for growth. Over the past seven years, Gigaclear has increased its space and power at the Telehouse London data centre campus.

Results

Since choosing to colocate in Telehouse, Gigaclear has been able to offer a highly reliable broadband service to its customers, eliminating service disruptions and preventing infrastructure failure that could compromise customer experience. Having a stable infrastructure housed in Telehouse London Docklands has enabled Gigaclear to deliver the promised always-on availability and super-fast download and upload speeds that rural communities desire and expect.

Partnering with Telehouse also helps meet strict regulatory requirements, which is an important factor as UK broadband providers are regulated under strict guidelines from Ofcom. Being able to back up its service availability measures has had a positive impact on Gigaclear’s reputation and therefore on its ability to sell its service to new customers.

Telehouse’s 24/7 Remote Hands support service has become essential to Gigaclear as it significantly negates the need for a Gigaclear employee to travel to the data centre in order to complete routine maintenance tasks. As such, the rural Internet Service Provider (ISP) has seen faster resolution times and an increase in the agility of its team. “Thanks to Remote Hands, we can deploy our sources more efficiently,” said Yepes.

The leading rural AltNet is regularly tracking customer satisfaction metrics on review sites such as Trustpilot. Its scores have been continuously trending upwards, signifying that Gigaclear customers are happy with the service provided to them and therefore supporting their ambitious expansion plans. Gigaclear will likely require further rack space from Telehouse to meet its growth targets and reach even more rural communities.

Following the opening of Telehouse South, the colocation provider’s fifth data centre in the most connected London Docklands Campus, Gigaclear is confident that Telehouse will be able to accommodate its future growth. The ongoing commitment shown by Telehouse to support customer needs and continue to expand within the existing campus provides the much-needed scalability and reassurance Gigaclear requires to future-proof its operations.

“For us, Telehouse is a place where we know we can grow and expand our footprint in an easy and straightforward manner,” said Yepes. “It gives us the much-needed resilience without sacrificing security. The recent opening of Telehouse South also gives us the peace of mind that there is space to grow within the existing campus should we need it.”

I caught up with Gabriel Yepes, Head of Networks, Gigaclear, who expanded on the company’s collaboration with Telehouse and outlines how it has been able to improve its data centre footprint.

What does your role at Gigaclear entail and what does this look like day-to-day?

I’m responsible for development, design, integration and operation of the active network in Gigaclear. By active network, we’re talking about all the hardware and software used to deliver voice and data services to our subscribers. We work very closely with our colleagues in the Build Teams who put the fibre infrastructure in the ground, and with the installations team who connect new subscribers onto the network. For that reason, my workstack can vary from day to day – one moment I am working on budgeting plans for the next few years and then quickly move onto a call with marketing to review the capacity impact of a potential new campaign. As a growing company, I also spend considerable time in recruitment and people development to make sure we have the right resources and skills in the organisation with the necessary processes in place to support operational requirements and quickly resolve any incidents impacting the live network. It’s a great job and it’s only going to get better.

How has Telehouse facilitated growth and future-proofed your operations?

As we grow our network and subscriber base, we are faced with network expansions in our core and aggregation equipment to support said growth. Telehouse has enabled us to grow our core data centre footprint much more efficiently while also facilitating interconnections with many content providers who also have presence in Telehouse. We are confident that our future needs in terms of footprint, resiliency, power and sustainability can be met by Telehouse.  

How important was ensuring uptime for Gigaclear and how has Telehouse improved this?

Voice and Internet services nowadays are considered at par with traditional utilities such as water and electricity. That means our customers rely heavily on being connected; uptime and service availability are very important criteria at Gigaclear and Telehouse ticks all the right boxes in that field. Not to mention, security which goes hand in hand with ensuring systems and equipment are kept operating well. Worth mentioning in any case, it is very reassuring to have access to reliable Remote-Hands support from Telehouse when needed – this is also part of good incident management plans.

Can you explain more about your sustainability targets and how Telehouse supported them?

Improving the performance of the network and reducing our overall energy consumption are constant drivers at Gigaclear. Leveraging best-in-class data centre solutions such as those in Telehouse means we can be more efficient in our footprint without compromising on other factors such as security and resiliency. It’s the classic principle of why build something from scratch when there are experts already offering a top-class solution.   

What are your Digital Transformation goals and how will you continue delivering a faultless performance to your customers? 

Gigaclear is growing rapidly and we want to ensure all our existing and new customers get the best possible broadband service that fibre solutions can provide. Our biggest challenge is keeping up with the pace of growth and we are comfortable that our core data centre in Telehouse can support our expansion plans with ease.

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