Internet Service Providers – A Comparison

The Fourth Utility?

The dictionary might be a good place to start here. It defines utility as: “a state of being useful, profitable or beneficial” it also defines utilities in a wider sense as “organisations providing the community with gas, water or electricity”.

it is probably fair to say that the dictionary might be a little behind the times, but they aren’t the only ones who are overlooking the emergence of what should now be considered the fourth utility: Broadband.

A survey of 2000 homeowners in the UK in 2016 placed organizing a broadband (20%) connection above gas (8%) and water (13%) in their priorities when moving home.

Homebuyers are more tech-savvy than ever before and now demand a good quality broadband connection as soon as they move into their new home. Both housebuilders and the current broadband providers need to adapt to ensure they are meeting the expectations of the homebuyer. Let’s take a look at the different options available to developers to try and make sense of whats on offer.

What are the options?

Currently the market is split into two distinct groups:

  1. The Traditional providers
  2. The AltNet providers

The traditional providers are the larger organizations and include Openreach and Virgin Media. Within the AltNet‘s there are several providers, but main players include Grain, GTC and Hyperoptic.

Separating the two

There are several differences between the traditional providers and the AltNet providers, but the main and most important factor is the network infrastructure itself which determine the overall service levels.

The traditional providers often utilise copper in their build, and on the occasion that they install fibre, are forced to mirror the architecture of their copper network. This is to ensure that engineers and maintenance can be carried out in a similar way. This means splitting of feeds so that one cable can often supply up to 16 residences, which leads to contention and bottlenecking of bandwidth at peak times. Beyond this the two main differences between copper and fibre are:

  • Speed – Fibre sends data using photons, copper uses electrons. Photons travel faster than electrons meaning that the fibre has over 1000 times more bandwidth available.
  • Reliability – Fibre is less susceptible to environmental factors such as temperature, moisture and signal degradation over distance. Faults on fibre connections associated with the cable itself are 90% less common.

Differences between the AltNets

Because of the vast differences in implementation and service between the traditional providers and the Altnets, Grain does not see the traditional providers as direct competitors, but rather looks towards other Altnet providers as competition. So how do we set them apart?

At Grain we have looked at several factors and in doing so have tried to offer services above and beyond our competition in these key areas:

  1. Fibre and Future Proofing – Grain supply four fibres to each residence which have a total capacity to supply over 120GBp/s, the only supplier who does this. Currently, 1GBp/s is the norm. This extra capacity can serve to supply numerous different applications whilst not being used, but with average data consumption per household up by 240GB per month since last year, it won’t be long before this additional bandwidth is needed.
  2. Speed and Symmetry – At the moment Grain offers 1GB packages as this is all the market currently demands. Grain is set apart from the competition through mirroring the download and upload speeds. Grains speeds are symmetrical meaning that smart technology and gaming are optimised through our network.
  3. Ready and Waiting – Currently Grain is the only provider to guarantee service live on day one, as soon as a new home buyer walks through their door. One less stress when moving house, and one happy new resident.
  4. Proactive Delivery – To make a difference in the new development sector, it’s not just the residents who want better service, the developers do as well. Dedicated project managers mean that delivery onsite is managed to help site teams, whilst the nature of a true point to point fibre network means that on average 50% less duct and 30% fewer chambers are needed in order to install the Grain network.
  5. Value for money – What’s the point in having the most advanced network on a development if nobody can afford to use it. Grain guarantees their entry-level product will always be cheaper than BT’s equivalent, whilst its faster packages all come in at a lower cost to all the competitions’ equivalent packages… When it comes to our gigabit service though, there aren’t many which can compare!

Grain is leading the way when it comes to innovation, service and price. In a market where confusing terminology and poor service are a norm, increasingly builders and home buyers are looking for something different. AltNets are a solution and Grain has made it its mission. If Broadband is to be formally recognised as the fourth utility, a new approach is definitely going to be needed.

Contact our business development team: If you would like to connect

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