Gigaclear broadband review 2021
By Dan Howdle | Thursday, April 8th 2021
Gigaclear aims to bring some of the fastest broadband in the country to rural locations which have been let down by Openreach and Virgin Media in their network rollout plans. With only around 20,000 customers, availability is extremely limited, but if you can get it there is little not to recommend. Let's take a look.
|Average download speed||30Mbps – 900Mbps|
|Average upload speed||30Mbps – 900Mbps|
|Broadband||FTTP full fibre|
|Prices from||£39 p/m plus activation fee|
Gigaclear is a highly unusual broadband provider. For one thing, its network is pure fibre. Other broadband providers, such as those on the Openreach network (that's everyone except Virgin Media) offer fibre networks that are fibre optic only as far as the cabinet on the street. The remaining distance to your property is copper wire, which puts serious limitations on the speed you can get.
A pure fibre network (called FTTP or 'fibre to the premises' in the business) can deliver frankly insane (ultrafast) speeds. And unlike Openreach's FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) it can offer upload speeds that are the same as its download speeds – known as a 'symmetrical' connection. With Gigaclear, three packages are available at 30Mbps, 100Mbps, 300Mbps and 900Mbps. At £79 a month, the fastest speed isn't cheap, but you can't really blame Gigaclear for that. The economics of building its own network into sparsely populated areas gives Gigaclear little choice over pricing.
But with only 20,000 customers, your chances of getting Gigaclear are vanishingly small. And if you live somewhere rural, can't currently get it, but hope to in the future, you're going to have to turn to your own community and drum up enough local support to make it worth Gigaclear's while. Don't get us wrong, what Gigaclear is doing is both fascinating and valuable, but don't raise your hopes too high that it will ultimately solve your own personal rural broadband woes.
According to Ofcom data the UK’s average broadband speed is 46.2Mbps, so this is a huge upgrade. Although 900Mbps is among the fastest broadband speeds in the UK, Gigaclear is by no means unique in this regard. Hyperoptic is another offering gigabit speeds, but in more rural areas.
It’s worth knowing that several mainstream providers such as BT, Vodafone and EE are now also offering ultrafast connections up to 900Mbps, but only to customers in select areas. And for those that have access to a Virgin Media connection, speeds of up to 1000Mbps are now on offer with Virgin’s Gig1 packages.
In terms of contracts, all Gigaclear contracts run for 18 months. This is a fairly typical contract length, and less relevant than it might be with some other providers, since if you live somewhere you can get Gigaclear we think it highly unlikely you're ever going to switch to the handful of Mbps you're probably going to be able to get with any other provider.
All Gigaclear broadband packages arrive with symmetrical speeds. That means that whichever upload speed you select – 30Mbps, 300Mbps or 900Mbps – you'll get the same upload speed. Upload speeds are generally less useful than download speeds, but if you are able to get upload speeds this fast, there's a good case to be made for using cloud storage for all your data storage requirements.
Most other providers offer upload speeds that are only a third or less (often much less) of their download speeds. Most of the stuff we do on the internet is download-oriented – drawing information or pictures or files or video from a remote server onto a device. Very little is upload oriented – sending those things from a device to a remote server – so most of us barely ever notice.
Router and installation
Gigaclear supplies all its customers with the impressive Gigaclear powered by Linksys router. This tri-band router uses the latest technology to provide impressive wifi coverage around your home by creating a mesh network.
To fully benefit from this router’s capabilities and enable the mesh technology, customers need to sign up to the Smart Wifi package, which is included with Gigaclear’s 300Mbps and 900Mbps packages as standard. This comes with both the router and one additional wifi node that will ensure an excellent wifi signal around the average three-bedroom property. Customers with larger properties can choose to add additional nodes at extra cost.
Be aware that although the mesh technology offers superior wifi coverage, you still won’t receive the top speed of 900Mbps on a wireless connection.
Installation is not as simple as it is with any other provider. Most broadband deals will arrive via the landline you already have wired into your home. In the case of Gigaclear, it has to physically lay the cable from the nearest point of termination (or POT) to your house. First, that means sending a surveyor to your property to properly understand not only your property, but the route from your property to the nearest POT.
You will need to agree on the route, including any digging/landscaping required beforehand, as well as where the network termination equipment (NTE) will be placed in your house. The NTE is basically the breakout box inside your property where your connection to Gigaclear's network terminates. Gigaclear will have to dig a trench on our property to lay the cable, and drill a hole in the wall of your house through which to feed it to the NTE.
If this all sounds super-destructive, don't worry – most times everything will look cosmetically exactly as it did before the work was done.
With Gigaclear being such a small provider, there is no record to be found in any Ofcom report showing how it has been doing with its customers over the years. What we have instead is Trustpilot, where customers go to review their broadband service. At the time of writing, Gigaclear has an average Trustpilot score of 3.7 out of 5.
Although that doesn't sound stellar at first glance it's important to understand that there is generally a heavy negativity bias in broadband provider reviews. People are just far more motivated to go write a review on Trustpilot when they have encountered some sort of issue. And the issue most complainers seem to have encountered is not being able to get the 300Mbps or 900Mbps they pay for over wifi.
This is a failure on their part to understand the technology. As highlighted further up the page, wifi itself will simply not go that fast. If you want your full connection speed, you're going to need to connect via a LAN cable. That means you will never be downloading or uploading at 300Mbps or 900Mbps on your phone or tablet – and that's not Gigaclear's fault.
Customers can get in touch with Gigaclear by calling 01865 591131 from 9am-7.30pm Monday to Friday, and from 10am-4pm on Saturday. Alternative you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for advice and support.
Our final verdict
- Fastest broadband in the UK
- Symmetrical download and upload speeds
- You don’t need a phone line
- Severely limited availability
- Community must want it
- No phone line available
If you can get it, get it. No other rural broadband solution is going to be as fast or reliable as Gigaclear. There are simply no drawbacks here as there are with 4G home broadband (unreliable, often slow), satellite broadband (huge latency issues, expensive) or any other rural broadband solution. Maybe the fact you can't get a landline from Gigaclear could be seen as a downside, but it's an upside too if you rely primarily on your mobile phone and don't need one.
But of course, it is almost certainly the case that you cannot get it, and if you live somewhere rural where speeds aren't great, but they are adequate, it's unlikely you'll ever be able to get it, since you'll never be able to convince your community of the need.
If you're looking for realistic alternatives, you probably already know what the deal is where you live. It's likely to be a choice of poor speeds on an Openreach network provider such as BT or Sky, unavailable Virgin Media, or some sort of mobile broadband solution. If you can get Gigaclear, jump on it, you lucky so-and-so!