I met Rutland Telecom during the week on JON Exchange business and we got talking about their success. Its been clear to me for a long time that for a great many areas (but not all) what they need is a new business model rather than grants to companies that helps to buffer established but inappropriate business models. Rutland Telecom is a great example of a company that has understood the new landscape and successfully moulded a sensible, sustainable business model around it.
Rutland use funds invested with them by communities to build next generation networks well within the “final third” – the areas traditional operators find almost impossible to invest in. They have very successfully constructed an investment model which gives them access to capital and provides the community with a fair rate of return on their cash – shared risk and reward.
During the chat, they told me that they recently issued dividend payments to their earliest projects, and that some of those initial investors asked Rutland to roll-up the interest and re-invest the sums in other communities. While larger, more established companies are struggling to see the investment case for broadband in some of the UK’s hard to reach areas, the people who live there can – and with Rutland Telecom do.
It was clear from talking to them that we can expect to hear more exciting stories from Rutland in the near future but I’ll let them tell you about that first!
In the mean time, if anyone tells you there’s no commercial investment case for broadband in your area – be polite but smile wryly, turn away and look towards England’s smallest county.