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A communications firm is launching a £200,000 bid to become the UK’s leading niche internet service provider (ISP) after receiving an interest-free loan.
Astro Communication aims to be winning customers for its new online operations by the end of the year after being given £85,000 from the TIGER fund, a scheme run partly by Kent County Council, which is lending £20m to businesses in north Kent through the Regional Growth Fund.
The Dartford-based company, which has operated for nearly 30 years, aims to create eight jobs through the venture.
The firm aims to develop the service using its own core network and reselling other companies’ services.
Co-founder Steve Smith, who is technical director, said: “Astro have always focused on providing innovative and reliable services to our customers.
“By taking this step in delivering our own ISP service, coupled with our existing products and highly technical team, we will be able to ensure that we design and manage every element of the customer’s network and that we provide the best possible service to them.”
Founded by two former BT employees, Astro provides communication services ranging from physical cabling and wireless LANs to cloud-based video conferencing.
Key clients include TGI Friday’s, Bourne Leisure Limited, Impellam Group PLC, Capital FM Arena and Wightlink Ferries.
The move into the ISP market has been prompted by an increase in mergers and acquisitions in the sector, which is dominated by a select few communications providers.
Managing director Steve Hodges said: “In 2007, an Ofcom study found over 700,000 businesses had connectivity and hosting services provided by a niche ISP and since then this market has gone from strength to strength.
“Customers choose to go with such suppliers because of the greater flexibly of service, higher levels of customer care and a more customer-centric approach to solution design.
“Astro have always employed these principles so by being in control of the solutions and choosing very strategic partnerships we feel we can bring a broader range of services to our customers.
“Both the validation of our business plan and the financial support from the TIGER scheme has given us a real boost in terms of the timing and effectiveness of this project.”
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