A new enterprise fibre network is ready to deliver up to 100 Gbps (gigabits-per-second) high-speed internet to London businesses, as part of a £250 million ($290 million) investment in the city's infrastructure.
Vorboss was founded out of London back in 2006 initially as a software provider, but with the advent of cloud computing and due to growing demand from its customers, it pivoted some years back to connectivity -- and it's now benefiting from recent regulatory changes that open up existing infrastructure to newcomers.
The company was acquired for an undisclosed figure back in 2020 by Fern Trading which has since invested £250 million to help Vorboss build what it calls "London's only full-coverage fibre internet network dedicated to business."
While BT subsidiary Openreach provides the infrastructure for most broadband service providers in the U.K. (Virgin being one notable exception), a new physical infrastructure access (PIA) regulation passed back in 2019 to promote greater competition in fibre networks opened the doors for companies such as Vorboss to make their mark.
Essentially, this new regulation allows third-parties to lay their own cables in existing duct infrastructure, and attach equipment to existing telegraph poles. And that is what Vorboss has been doing for the past couple of years, laying some 500 km (310 miles) of fibre optic cables that connect directly to premises (FTTP) -- rather than going through a copper-and-cabinet intermediary -- with minimal speeds of 10 Gbps.
This 10 Gbps baseline costs customers £650 per month on an initial 12-month contract, and represents a marked increase on the 1 Gbps cap that most other "full fibre" services provide. But speeds can run as high as 100 Gbps, which Vorboss says some of its customers are already receiving. This includes 22 Bishopsgate, which became one of tallest office buildings in the U.K. when it opened last year, and which pitches its connectivity as a core selling point to would-be tenants.
22 Bishopsgate, also known as Twentytwo, which is a commercial skyscraper in the City of London. Image Credits: Mike Kemp / Getty Images
Another interesting facet of Vorboss is its diversity credentials. The company said it has created more than 300 jobs for Londoners since the start of 2021, 200 of which have come directly from its own in-house training academy, meaning that these recruits had previously worked in completely different disciplines before joining Vorboss. Specifically, the company said that almost 40% of its field-based installation team are women, with Vorboss founder and CEO Tim Creswick noting that they're aiming for gender balance across all roles.
"We’re proud to be in London and believe our team should reflect the diversity of our community," Creswick said in a statement. "We knew this would only be possible if we attracted new people to this industry."
Vorboss's ultimate goal is to cover every commercial building in Central London, with little indication so far that it's looking beyond the U.K. capital for expansion. Despite the rise of remote work and the economic downturn, London remains an appealing proposition for domestic and international companies looking to open offices, given that it's a major technology and financial hub -- it contributes nearly one-quarter of the country's £2.2 trillion GDP annually. But businesses (and homes) in London and across the country often suffer from poor connectivity, with broadband speeds in the U.K. among the slowest in Europe.
"London generates a GDP of over £500 billion, yet many businesses remain at the mercy of restrictive telecommunications products and business models," Creswick said. "These legacy networks are a limiting factor in critical technology decisions, which can restrict growth."
Outside of London, the U.K. government is rolling out various initiatives to get more rural places up to speed, including its £5 billion Project Gigabit. It's also worth noting that there are other full-fibre providers out there capitalizing on the U.K.'s regulatory shake-up, but this is where Vorboss is seeking to differentiate itself -- not only is it touting broadband with a super-fast baseline guarantee, but it's pitching this purely at businesses. Companies who sign up to Vorboss won't be sharing network capacity with homes.
"We believe focusing on the City is right because no one else sells full coverage fibre directly to businesses in central London at a minimum of 10 Gbps," a Vorboss spokesperson told TechCrunch. "Many try and do business and fibre-to-the-home on the same network, thus specializing in neither. We are open and transparent in how we do business, and provide a guaranteed price for the duration of the contract."