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ARTICLE: Rethinking the Altnet Model: Navigating Challenges with Innovative Hybrid Solutions

The alternative network provider (altnet) landscape is undergoing a transformative phase as the higher cost of capital, scaled-back build numbers, restructuring, layoffs, and abandoned rollouts reverberate throughout the industry. This ripple effect has reached beyond altnets themselves, impacting the supply chain such as fibre, and civil works companies. In the face of these challenges, a seismic shift is unfolding—one that requires medium to smaller sized altnets to rethink their strategies and embrace innovative hybrid solutions for sustainable growth.

The Unfolding Reality

Altnets, formerly recognised for their ambitious network expansion strategies, are now facing a number of obstacles that have redefined the telecoms industry landscape.

Recent news paints a sobering picture as altnets scale back their build plans: providers like Truespeed announcing workforce reductions, Broadway Partners facing administration, and WeLink Communications UK withdrawing from the UK ISP market.

The challenges being faced by the industry have cascaded down to the supply chain, affecting fibre and civil works companies such as Light Source and Makhappen both which have entered into administration recently.

Challenges and Imperatives In a Rapidly Evolving Industry

As the traditional ‘build it and they will come’ altnet model is grappling with financial challenges, overbuilding, and tepid take-up rates, we believe that a new imperative has emerged and one that altnets and their investors should consider seriously.

Earlier this year we wrote an article on how altnets will survive in the crowded fibre market. The article illustrated several survival strategies available to altnets including scale, investor driven consolidation and purpose driven niche strategies to differentiate from competitors.

However, to date, many altnet strategies have been based on a more generalist ‘premises passed’ model. It is imperative that generalist, medium to small sized altnets pivot towards strategies that prioritise not just ambitious network builds, but also rapid customer connectivity, sustainable cash flow, and cost-effective solutions.

Altnets that fail to adopt survival strategies or pivot, face the risk of stagnation and vulnerability in a rapidly evolving industry potentially leading to diminished competitiveness and long-term viability.

The Power of the Hybrid Approach

In this evolving landscape, a hybrid approach that combines the strengths of both full fibre and wireless technologies can provide a beacon of hope particularly for medium to smaller altnets, particularly those serving communities where competitor overbuild threatens take up.

With a hybrid approach, the focus can shift from costly and time-consuming fibre deployments to speedy customer connectivity, creating a dynamic strategy that responds to real-time demands.

The hybrid approach places the customer at the centre, shifting the altnet focus from being a network builder to becoming a customer connectivity provider.

The advantages of a hybrid approach are readily apparent:

  • Cash flow boost: By expediting customer connections, the hybrid approach accelerates inwards cash flow, providing a lifeline for altnets and ensuring their financial viability.

  • Affordable connectivity: Integrating wireless technology offers a budget-friendly alternative, allowing altnets to offer competitive pricing while maintaining quality services.

  • Deployment flexibility: In areas where fibre installations pose challenges, wireless solutions offer an agile alternative to bridge connectivity gaps swiftly.

Intelligens Consulting's Pioneering Framework

Pioneering the way forward, Intelligens Consulting has developed a groundbreaking model that enables altnets to make informed decisions to optimise their network expansion based on a hybrid fibre-wireless approach to rapidly grow market share, maximise profitable customer acquisition and boost early cash flow thus enabling their few precious resources to be allocated cautiously.

The rapid changes happening in the altnet industry underscores the urgency for reinvention and consideration of new approaches. Hybrid fibre and wireless technologies can offer a transformative customer-centric pathway, offering accelerated customer connections and early cash flow. By embracing this hybrid approach medium to smaller altnets can better weather the storm and thrive.

About Intelligens Consulting

Intelligens Consulting is a leading telecoms, smart city, and digital transformation management consultant to investors, operators, and public bodies. Our team of senior advisors are skilled in strategy, data, finance, economics and technology. Reach out to us at to find out how we can help you or to discuss anything else mentioned in this article.

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