Rural UK Altnet Broadband ISP Wessex Internet Appoint First COO

Rural-focused ISP and alternative network builder Wessex Internet, which is deploying a full fibre (FTTP) gigabit broadband service across parts of Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Somerset in England, has today appointed their first Chief Operations Officer (COO) in the shape of Gavin Davies.

The operator’s existing network footprint is currently said to cover “tens of thousands of homes” (some of this may include their old fixed wireless network too), while their business plan targets an “additional” 150,000 premises by 2027 through a combination of subsidised and unsubsidised capital investment. The ISP has also secured four Project Gigabit contracts from the UK Government to connect 36,000 premises to their fibre.

NOTE: Wessex Internet is backed by majority shareholder abrdn and in late 2023 secured £35m of additional funding, including a Senior Debt Facility from Triodos Bank (here).

Suffice to say that the company has a lot of building to do over the next few years, and that’s where having a COO could come in handy. Gavin himself brings leadership experience from operational roles in other technology and utility companies, including, most recently, at civil engineering firm Avonline.

Gavin Davies said:

“I have helped to lead telecoms and utility companies through periods of rapid growth and efficiency improvement, and look forward to bringing this experience to Wessex Internet. In the sector, Wessex Internet is known to be unique in its approach to building its fibre network, both in engineering and technical terms, and in how it engages with the communities it serves.

On a personal level, I am already relishing working in the glorious countryside after more urban-based recent roles, and I have been fascinated by the innovative methods developed by Wessex Internet to provide broadband in challenging areas that would otherwise not be connected by other providers.

I believe that businesses and individuals should not face a digital divide based on where they are located and am excited to be part of a company that is removing these barriers. Relatedly, I take seriously the role we play in providing high-quality employment across multiple disciplines in a predominantly rural area.”

Prices for their full fibre packages start at £29 per month for a 100Mbps (15Mbps upload) tier on a 12-month term, but this only comes with a meagre 100GB data allowance (£44 for unlimited), and you’ll have to pay £49 (one-off) for activation. By comparison, their top unlimited usage plan will give 900Mbps (450Mbps upload) for £79 per month, which is fairly expensive by today’s standards, albeit still good if nobody else can supply FTTP.

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