Gigaclear Broadband Buyers Guide - Is Gigaclear right for you?
Can I get Gigaclear broadband?
Gigaclear are a rural broadband provider. The service currently covers around 65,000 premises across a dozen counties, with funding to expand across other parts of the UK in future. Their target is to be available to more than 300,000 homes by the end of 2021.
Gigaclear is a fibre-to-the-home network. This is different to most fibre offerings in the UK. The fibre cables run directly into your property, and can lead to a much faster and more reliable service.
Most fibre providers in the UK use fibre-to-the-cabinet. Here, the fibre connection runs as far as your nearest street cabinet, and a copper cable is used from there to your home. This can result in you achieving far less than the advertised speeds, especially if you live a long way from the street cabinet (as is very often the case in rural areas). Such slowdowns should not be an issue with Gigaclear's service, although its coverage is much more limited.
Use our postcode checker to find out if Gigaclear is available in your village. If it isn't you can register your interest via the Gigaclear website. However, for the service to be considered for installation in your area it will need significant interest from the rest of your community, and you'll need to be within 3km of existing fibre infrastructure or another village that already has access to Gigaclear.
What packages are available?
Gigaclear have four fibre broadband packages available for residential customers. The main difference between the options is the speeds they offer and the addition of Smart WiFi on the two fastest tiers.
The packages are:
- Superfast 30 - unlimited fibre broadband with download and upload speeds averaging at 30Mb
- Ultrafast 100 - unlimited fibre broadband with download and upload speeds averaging at 100Mb
- Ultrafast 300 with Smart WiFi - unlimited fibre broadband with download and upload speeds averaging at 300Mb
- Hyperfast 900 with Smart WiFi - the fastest package offers an unlimited service, with upload and download speeds averaging at 900Mb
All the packages are on a minimum 18 month contract with a guarantee that the price will not rise during that period. There is an activation fee, and 5% of customers will have to pay £120 installation, subject to a no obligation survey. Because installation for fibre-to-the-home services are more complex, these fees are somewhat higher than you'd normally expect to pay.
Smart WiFi is provided as standard on the faster products, this gives you an additional WiFi node to extend your network coverage to the furthest parts of a typical 3-bedroom house, you also have the option to pay extra to add additional nodes, up to 3 total in addition to the router, so that larger homes may also benefit. The Smart WiFi technology produces a mesh network, meaning that regardless of whether you connect to the router or a node, the same password and network ID are used, so you can seamlessly move around the home without needing to re-connect to a different access point.
If you prefer to combine your broadband and phone into a single bundle you can add a voice over IP (VOIP) calls deal from Vonage. This uses your internet connection to make and receive calls, but you can usually keep your existing phone number. The main downside to a VOIP service is that it won't work if your internet is down, including if there's a power cut.
Which package should I choose?
Unlike many fibre providers, the deals from Gigaclear offer vastly different speeds, and significantly different prices, too. Choose carefully!
Superfast 30 is the entry level package, and the 30Mb speed is in the same ballpark as a basic fibre service from most other providers. However, due to the fact that this is a fibre-to-the-home service the performance should be more consistent, and the upload speed - also 30Mb - a lot faster. This will handle streaming, gaming and downloading for all the family, and is likely to be fast enough for most households.
Ultrafast 100 is comparable with ultrafast products from the other providers who are able to offer these speeds, and will handle anything you can throw at it. Want to watch Netflix in 4K on more than one device? That won't be a problem!
Ultrafast 300 with Smart WiFi is faster than you'll find from almost any other provider, and can do everything that Ultrafast 100 does, with a bit more oomph, and should future proof your speed needs for quite a while. Plus you get all the benefits of Smart WiFi's mesh network support and additional WiFi node as standard.
And then there's the Hyperfast 900 with Smart WiFi. With incredible download and upload speeds of 900Mb it ranks along the fastest broadband services available in the UK, and faster than even most providers in urban areas. To be honest, it's overkill for most home users, especially considering the hefty price and everything Ultrafast 300 with Smart WiFi gives you. But if you have specific requirements - you work from home and need to share large files, for example - then this will do the job.
Before you sign up you should also make sure you're clear about the installation process. Installation requires a cable to be run from the fibre pot on the boundary of your property to the router inside your house. This means a hole will need to be drilled in your wall, and for concrete, paving or garden to be dug up outside. This will all be reinstated by approved installers, but installation can be quite expensive as a result. You can choose to install it yourself if you have the tools and know-how.
Of course, the main consideration with Gigaclear is whether it's even available in your village. If it isn't you can register your interest on their website. Encourage your neighbours to do the same, if you can. And if it is, check that you don't have other, cheaper options available to you - unless you really need that speed!
Points to consider before you choose
- Is the service available in your area?
- How fast are the other broadband services available to you?
- Do you need fast upload speeds?
- Does your home tend to have WiFi coverage issues that Smart WiFi would address?
- Are you happy to take out a 18 month contract?
What do I get when I sign up?
It's good to know what you're getting when you sign up to a broadband provider, so you can budget for any extras you may need. In the case of Gigaclear, it's a strictly no-frills service.
- Free wireless router - All users get a free Gigaclear powered by Linksys Wi-Fi router designed specifically for fibre-to-the-home broadband.
- Smart WiFi node on Ultrafast 300 and Hyperfast 900 - The faster products come with a Smart WiFi node (upgradable to 3 total nodes in addition to the router) that form a mesh network to seamlessly cover areas of weak WiFi signal within your come, typical 3 to 5 bedroom homes can be covered depending on the number of nodes.
- Installation kit - If you opt to install the service yourself you'll get an installation kit including instruction guide and a cable up to 50m in length. If you need a longer cable you have to pay for it.
- Parental controls - The free parental control software enables you to restrict what sites your children can view
- Customer support - Free customer support is available by phone, 24 hours a day (via a standard rate number). Email support is also available.
What are the benefits of Gigaclear broadband?
So what are the best reasons for considering broadband from Gigaclear?
- Fast rural internet access - Internet services in rural areas is notoriously terrible. If Gigaclear is available in your area it's all but guaranteed to be the best you can get, by some margin.
- Unbeatable speeds - The Hyperfast 900 package is as fast as you can get in the UK, even compared to services you can get in big cities. Better still, fibre-to-the-home broadband should deliver the advertised speeds.
- Very fast upload speeds - With upload speeds that match the download speeds, the service is ideal if you share a lot of large files, or make video calls.
- Smart WiFi mesh network as standard - On faster products the first node in a mesh network that will cover weak WiFi signal spots in your home is provided for free, with an easy upgrade path to adding two more nodes to the Smart WiFi network as needed.
- Guaranteed price - Your monthly price is guaranteed for the length of the 18 month minimum contract term, unlike many other providers who may institute price increases at any time with only 30 days notice.
- Standalone broadband - The Gigaclear service doesn't use a phone line. They won't sell you one, and you don't need to take one from another company if you don't need it (although you will if you do).
- Unlimited access - All of Gigaclear's broadband packages come with no limits on the amount of data you can download.
- Free tech support - Free customer support is available by phone whenever you need it.
- Highly rated - Gigaclear are a highly rated broadband provider. They rank best for speed, and in the top three for satisfaction, service and reliability.Isps
What are the drawbacks of Gigaclear?
No service is perfect, so what are the possible downsides of choosing Gigaclear?
- More expensive - Gigaclear brings ultrafast broadband to rural areas, but you do pay a premium for this.
- Difficult installation - Fibre-to-the-home is a lot more difficult to install than the more common fibre-to-the-cabinet, and may even require concrete or paving to be dug up in your front garden. In most cases this is free, but 5% of customers will need full installation. You can do it yourself if you have the skills, while the price for using an approved installer starts at £120 (subject to a no obligation survey).
- Very limited availability - Although Gigaclear is continuing to expand into more communities, availability is currently still very limited.
- Few extras - The service comes with minimal extras.
- Telephone service requires broadband - You can add a VOIP phone service to your Gigaclear plan, if you need it. However, this only works where broadband is available. You cannot make calls - even emergency calls - when there's a power cut.