New Scottish internet provider aims to be 'best-loved' on market

·5-min read
Duncan Di Biase, CEO Brillband (picture credit Elaine Livingstone (1)
Duncan Di Biase, CEO Brillband (picture credit Elaine Livingstone (1)

IT might not be aiming initially to be the biggest, but it has its sights firmly set on being the best-loved, says Brillband founder Duncan Di Biase.

The app-based internet service provider is to be rolled out to a test group of customers and is set to launch fully in September in Glasgow and Renfrewshire, with the aim of having 10,000 signed up and a team of 20, and be profitable, by the end of 2023.

It is estimated the firm will have 120,000 customers by 2025.

Mr Di Biase, who was raised in Berkshire and Surrey, opted for Scotland as the launchpad for Brillband after moving to Glasgow with partner Helena Murphy, also an entrepreneur and investor.

The business, likened to online banking offerings like Monzo and Starling and backed by Raising Partners investors, has linked with CityFibre which is providing the infrastructure for the network.

He says the relationship differs from a wholesale arrangement as those usually involve packaging a network and infrastructure and selling both together.

“You are limited by the infrastructure because it is a traditionally built broadband network,” he said. “With Brillband we are radically different. We are a software defined broadband network and we are building our own in-house software to power that.

“As a result of doing so we are able to go directly to [for example] Openreach, or in our case it is CityFibre. We can add multiple and smaller providers as well as we scale up, but at the moment we are working with CityFibre.

“We wholesale just the full fibre optic cable, and we then place our network on top of that.

“CityFibre puts infrastructure in the ground and then has businesses come in and leverage that infrastructure and that’s how they make money. We make money off building a network on top of it.”

READ MORE: Glasgow Brillband free broadband trial open

He continued: “The way we are doing that is we are operating a golden ticket, very similar to Monzo, so you can sign up now to the wait list and we are launching a three-month free offer.

“So people get our service free of charge, we appreciate we are a new provider and we need to build that trust, and we need to show them what we can do, and that’s why we are coming in with a compelling price point but also a compelling offer.

“Again, we can do that because of the way in which we build. We don’t have any technical debt. So we don’t pass on the mistakes of our past, we don’t have huge archaic operating models that require significant amounts of resource.

“We have the ability to very much undercut and compete with the major players.”

He said the technology promotes transparency. “Also across the board, you can notice that price increases can be hidden and typically eventually the cheapest price plans will incur the largest percentage increase.

“It is quite a significant price increase and for many vulnerable people or people in low socio economic areas they may not be expecting such a significant price increase in their contract, leading them into internet poverty.

“That is one of the things we trying to do away with our transparent model and by having that one price point and by leveraging our technology and utilising digital innovation.”

READ MORE: Scottish app-based broadband provider hires heavyweights

He said: “We are using technology to digitally innovate and when you innovate you make things more accessible. That’s what you should be doing anyway, not just making it more expensive.

“Because of other sectors being innovative like banking with Starling and Monzo like taxis with Uber, we have become more attuned to other offers out there.

“We should be profitable in 2023. We are also securing our team’s jobs.”

Its customer service operatives will be paid £25,000, which it said is more than 20 per cent above the UK broadband industry average.

“We are not looking to be the biggest but we are definitely looking to be the best loved.

“We do one package that is 900 megabytes per second for £35 a month and that will give them everything they need in terms of bandwidth, which makes things nice and simple."

READ MORE: 'World-first' app-based broadband provider to launch in Scotland

He said: “We then give them their installation date, is the next screen that they go through to, so they select the date that they would like the CityFibre engineer to come along. They get to pick were it goes on the day and the router is delivered to them.

“Once that installation is done they plug their router in and away they go.

“In terms of the customer and what makes us different is our service model. So we are app based so because of our software defined network we are able to take a much more proactive approach to our customers so we can let them know when maintenance is going to be taking place on the network, we can auto-refund them, so we can see where the service has not been good enough. We don’t anticipate this being regular.

"That is us for an offering, that is how we differentiate ourselves.”

Q&A

  • What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?

Italy for the food, weather and people. Rome, in particular, is my favourite city break destination.

  • When you were a child, what was your ideal job? Why did it appeal?

As a child, I wanted to be in the police. Fast cars, blue lights and doing good appealed to me. Consequently, I did 2.5 years as a special constable with Thames Valley Police.

  • What was your biggest break in business?

Signing our first contract at Raising Partners was a big moment. It was a point of market validation and our first piece of self-generated revenue. It was at that point I caught the bug. Since then, securing investment from a fantastic set of investors for Brillband has enabled us to focus on our vision of building the most loved broadband provider.

  • What was your worst moment in business?

My worst moment was taking business calls while my son and fiancee were in the hospital a day after his birth. I learnt at that point how important setting boundaries was and will never let moments like that be interrupted again.

  • Who do you most admire and why?

I admire the people I work with. Their ability to forget learnt behaviours, innovate and bring ideas to life, combined with the passion they show towards Brillband and our mission, is incredible to see.

  • What book are you reading, what was the last film you saw and what music are you listening to?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my three-year-old son, and tonight it will be The Gruffalo, the last film I watched was Senior Year on Netflix, and I have been listening to a mix of house, indie and grime depending on my mood.