A new UK ISP called Brillband launched today claiming to be the “world’s leading app-based broadband provider,» which is said to have the «potential to completely change the way broadband is deliveredand is backed by an initial investment of £660,000 from venture capital firm Fuel Ventures.
The press announcement itself is an interesting collection of ambitious statements and soundbites, though those that often seem to confuse the benefits of their new mobile (or tablet) app with those of delivering real-world services. As a result, we had to spend time trying to decode what it was actually announcing.
However, reading between the lines, Brillband appears to be a CityFibre-based ISP (they may expand to other networks in the future) that will be selling Fiber to the premises (FTTP) based broadband packages. The first sites to benefit from it – as part of their Alpha phase launch – will Glasgow and Renfrew County in Scotland from July 2022.
The “state of the art“The service is said to be the brainchild of entrepreneur and CEO of Brillband, Duncan Di Biasewho has “want to disrupt the sector“after becoming”exasperated by the substandard services offered by major broadband players “more focused on profit than the people using them”.Fair enough. But what does it really mean to be an app-based provider?
Key quotes from Brillband’s announcement
➤ The provider will allow users to run their entire broadband service from their mobile phone or tablet, with native consumer-centric features including 1GB speeds [we’re sure they mean 1Gbps, not GigaBytes] without entrance fee; up-to-the-minute network diagnostics and updates via push notifications; built-in security features, including malware detection; and 24-hour access to local customer service teams, all at customers’ fingertips.
➤ Patent-pending software technology uses the direct connection between provider and customer to allow the service to create individual usage profiles that automatically optimize the service based on how it is used, for example for games , streaming, working from home or downloading content.
➤ Brillband’s £3m world-first technology – which Di Biase describes as the company’s secret sauce – was developed by some of broadband’s brightest minds, including the director tech Justin Fielder, a former Sky Network executive whose successes include building Sky Broadband.
➤ Brillband – which will initially roll out to a test group of app and network customers in Glasgow and Renfrewshire later this year – aims to have 10,000 customers and a team of 20 by the end of 2023 , growing to 40,000 customers by the end of 2024. Di Biase estimates the company will have 120,000 customers by 2025.
All in all, it looks pretty good, although at the time of writing their website is still just a holding page with no details on current plans or prices, which makes it difficult to judge. The app itself also looks like a pretty extensive management and support tool for the broadband connection, and we’re currently trying to find out precisely what they mean by automatic.”optimizationsabove – details matter when talking about such things.
When talking about price, we usually talk about “offer a flat rate to all customers receiving the same high-speed service(this is also expressed as having “no tiered pricing structure“), which doesn’t tell us much, but it might suggest that they only offer a single 1Gbps plan. The ISP states that it aims to “make broadband more affordable“and there is a desire to have”no entrance fee” (i.e. sounds like a free setup, which is not uncommon).
“Connectivity is one of the most important commodities in our lives, yet too many people have accepted substandard services from legacy providers that aren’t configured to meet their needs. People pay outrageous fees for speeds they don’t get, and it amazes me that no one seems to question that.
They wouldn’t accept it from any other service, so why should they accept it for their broadband? I was fed up with endless calls to customer service lines, frequent dropouts, speeds that don’t represent what is being paid for, usually at far higher rates than new customers receive. I just thought – there must be a better way.
Brillband’s technology is what sets us apart. As far as we know, it’s a world first – no one else has it or can copy it – and its beauty is in its simplicity. It removes the barriers so many associate with broadband providers, but it’s only there when people need it.
We don’t currently know what a selling point it is to promote a fixed broadband ISP as “app-based“. Most consumers just want an affordable, reliable, and fast broadband connection that does its job without you having to think much about it. Also, many ISPs already offer management apps, but admittedly most of them are quite limited in their scope and capabilities – some even split their functionality across multiple apps (super.. annoying).
However, Brillband’s CTO, Justin Fieldermakes an interesting point:Before Uber, no one thought they needed to see their vehicle coming, now they can’t live without it; before Starling or Monzo no one knew they needed to track transactions, now it’s a banking staple; and before Brillband no one knew they had to control their broadband use in this way – they won’t be able to live without it.”
As always, the proof will be in the final product. The biggest challenge for Brillband, however, will be in entering an already crowded and aggressively competitive market, which has a history of making life very difficult for start-ups with audacious goals for customer growth. . We wish them luck in what is sure to be a difficult climb, as it is for all ISPs today.