Jurassic Fibre – Connecting A Region
Jurassic Fibre are on a mission to give the South West of England a truly 21st Century connectivity infrastructure.
Chief Executive Michael Maltby and his fast-growing Exeter-based team are already making waves in the area, having raised significant investment, announced the signing of a key re-seller partnership with renowned telecommunications firm swcomms, and started a revolutionary fibre-connectivity rollout east of Exeter that will grow to cover towns and villages from Barnstaple to Weymouth.
Originally from Manchester, Michael trained as an accountant before moving to Moscow, where he lived for twenty years and established a career in the world of telecommunications himself. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it left 280 million people with less than 1000 international voice lines, no mobiles or internet connectivity. This understandably resulted in a boom in telecoms and Michael got stuck in, including playing a key role in fitting Moscow with fibre connectivity.
He then moved to Malta and eventually Jamaica where he worked for communications giant Digicel, who spent $500m fitting fibre throughout the Caribbean. Michael told me,
“There were Caribbean slums with better internet connectivity than almost anywhere in the SW of the UK and it made me wonder why the rest of the world seemed to be able to build-out modern networks when, here in the UK, we seem to have settled for that being just a little too hard.”
“I realised that, although the particular geographies and situations were different in each of these countries, the methodology behind the rapid connectivity improvement would work just as well in outlying areas around UK towns and cities.”
So, when he returned to Sidmouth in 2017, he spent six months looking for investors. He found some midway through 2018 in the form of Fern Trading, advised by Octopus International, who put their first money into the project in early 2019. The business plan will see the gigabit capable network rolled out in the South West over the next five years. From the fringes of Exeter eastwards, where the first customers are now signing up, north to Barnstaple and east to Yeovil and Weymouth, it’s part of long-term £250million pound infrastructure project in the region.
The plan started in earnest in February 2019. Since then, the company has grown rapidly to 80 people, based predominantly in Exeter. Their first customers have been using the connectivity in a test-phase and the first stage of rollout east of Exeter is well underway, with several thousand customers set to sign up to Jurassic Fibre in 2020.
One of the most impressive things that stood out to me about the Jurassic Fibre proposition is the true scalability, dynamism and flexibility of their connectivity solutions. Whether a residential or business customer, users can access reliable and lightning-fast internet speeds with the ability to increase or decrease their speeds in real-time using an app. This puts the power firmly in the customers’ hands – a refreshing change for the UK connectivity market.
I was interested to find out why Michael had identified Devon as the location for the business when moving back to the UK (apart from the fact that he had a house in Sidmouth).
“There is a clear demand in the rural South West for the service that we offer. Also, a lot of the UK’s fibre comes from America and up into Devon, so it’s a great place to locate a fibre-connectivity business! For me, the South West is the only place in the UK that genuinely has the potential to become the Silicon Valley of the UK. The mixture of economic development, forward-thinking businesses and amazing lifestyle is hugely exciting. A superb connectivity infrastructure is central to a vision like this being achieved and expect significant growth and investment in the region off the back of the sort of work that we are doing.”
At this point, Sanjoy Bose, Jurassic Fibre’s Chief Technical Officer, joined the conversation. At the frontline of how Jurassic Fibre are going to achieve their vision, Sanjoy – who has over twenty-years of network building experience – certainly has a large job on his capable hands.
“Planning and infrastructure analysis is essential to our approach. We are thinking fifteen years ahead and spend more time than almost any other network provider designing and planning our solutions. Progress of our builds are monitored in real-time. This pretty much ensures that we can keep on track with our commercial goals and allows us to make sure that we are being as time-efficient as possible.”
Jurassic Fibre’s Wayleave Manager, Dan Langworthy-Smith, is another key member of the team. Responsible for securing consent from landowners to build network over private land, Dan is also the primary representative of the company when it comes to parish council and community engagement.
“A big focus for us is how to make the maximum impact possible, in terms of connectivity infrastructure, whilst making the minimum impact on the land itself. Rather than simply telling landowners what we are going to do, we are engaging collaboratively with them – an approach which helped us to secure permission to build on over 25km of private land from Exeter Airport down to Exmouth in record time.”
It can’t be overstated just how important connectivity is to the life, vibrancy and future success of a region. With cutting-edge connectivity solutions like the ones Jurassic Fibre offer, parts of the rural South West which have been living in the ‘digital dark ages’ until now are set to be brought bang up to date in the not-too-distant future. This will bear all sorts of fruit for these geographies, increasing their ability to operate regionally, nationally and internationally, whilst still living the Devon dream.
To find out more about Jurassic Fibre’s exciting journey, visit www.jurassic-fibre.com or follow them @jurassicfibre on Twitter.