Rural broadband firm Next Genus runs out of money

In a blow to countryside businesses and domestic customers alike, rural broadband firm Next Genus has indicated that they have been unable to find any ‘viable sources of finance’ and is about to cease operations. Despite lofty ideals and what would seem to be a sound business plan, the company has run out of money. It was Next Genus’ intention to bring high speed Internet connectivity to rural areas by using local champions and private finance. But the finance didn’t appear and the result is that some of their customers have now been cut off.

Rival firms have tried to help by stepping in and keeping customers connected in some areas, but other customers in more remote locations have suddenly found themselves disconnected from the web.

It seemed like a good idea at the time – Next Genus had been using a combination of fibre cables and wireless connections to deliver very high speed broadband of between 10-60megabits/second to some parts of the UK. They focused their efforts on areas that would struggle to get any other kind of connection, including satellite broadband. Next Genus’ first line of operation was to promote the idea of fast broadband by a marketing drive in rural areas. Once enough people had expressed an interest and demand reached viable levels, they would then put in an infrastructure to deliver the service to everyone who had signed up.

Nice idea, but…

It’s a great way of doing things in theory – check out your market first before committing to investing time and money putting in the infrastructure. The trouble is that in real life, things don’t always go according to plan. While the service had proved to be popular in parts of Cumbria, Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire, the numbers just didn’t add up and Next Genus has continually struggled to pay its creditors from inception. The result is that many customers have now lost their Next Genus service entirely.

Rival firm Quickline has stepped in to fill the breach in Hull and East Yorkshire, while ISP Kcom has taken care of other customers in Hull too. But in rural Cumbria, former Next Genus customers are stuttering along in a stop-start manner that has left a lot of people very angry. Talks are in progress with a potential investor for the Cumbria region, and Next Genus has said that they will be providing customers with more information shortly by email. Whether or not those same customers will actually have an Internet connection so that they can receive the email is another matter…

What next?

So as one firm falls, another one is bound to step into the gap and try another tactic to bring high speed broadband connectivity to some of the more remote parts of the UK. In reality, installing expensive infrastructures to support fibre optics is probably not going to work for the truly remote locations with one or two customers at most. In these instances, the more pragmatic option is going to be satellite broadband, rather than a land-based system. Either way, investment and some very careful planning and forethought is needed, otherwise we could see a plethora of service providers all struggling with the same kind of problems that sounded the death knell for Next Genus.