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London ISP Community Fibre Secure £11m to Expand “Full Fibre” Broadband

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 (9:56 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 421)
community_fibre

Last year Community Fibre revealed an aspiration to extend their 1Gbps+ fibre optic broadband (FTTH/B) network to cover 500,000 homes in London (here) and today they’ve moved a step toward that by securing £11.3m of private equity investment from RPMI Railpen and existing shareholders.

At present the ISP, which also operates a slower Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) network for some locations and tends to specifically target large apartment buildings (Multi-Dwelling Units) or office blocks, already has agreements in place with local authorities to operate in the Boroughs of Westminster, Wandsworth, Camden and Hammersmith & Fulham (example). We also expect them to target several districts in the London Docklands, Canary Wharf and the City of London areas.

As a result of that the provider claims to have made their “ultrafast broadband” network available to 10,000 properties and, thanks to the new £10 million investment from RPMI Railpen (the investment manager for the Railways Pension Scheme) and a contribution of £1.3 million from existing shareholders, they now expect to cover 40,000 (premises passed) by the end of 2018.

The ISP has also appointed Ilse Howling, a former founder of the Freeview TV service and Chairman of the global children’s development charity Unicef UK, to be its new Chair.

Jeremy Chelot, CEO of Community Fibre, said:

“Having already delivered thousands of gigabit properties in London, we have a very clear goal of being the leading full fibre ISP in the capital by 2020. This investment demonstrates the confidence investors have in the ability of our business to deliver continued expansion and achieve that ambitious aim. It will also enable us to work with more landlords to invest in and future proof their properties.

We’re delighted that Ilse has joined the company at such an exciting time. The experience and knowledge she brings with her will only strengthen our business and ensure we are in the best possible position to deliver value for our customers.”

Kieran Thind, Investment Manager at Railpen, said:

“We are excited to be investing in a great company, which is fully focussed on bringing full fibre broadband to communities in London. As a long-term investor, we see our partnership with Community Fibre as a natural fit that will allow us to generate strong returns over time and help fulfil our mission to pay members’ pensions securely, affordably and sustainably.”

At present it’s debatable whether Community Fibre will become the “leading full fibre ISP in the capital by 2020,” particularly since that would require them to deliver more FTTP/H than either Openreach or Hyperoptic and by then we’d still expect both of those ISPs to be ahead of Community Fibre in terms of “full fibre” network coverage.

The FTTP/H/B provider is only latest to win a big chunk of private investment, with Cityfibre, Gigaclear and TrueSpeed Communities all recently announcing major funding improvements. Suffice to say that “full fibre” deployments are starting to become much more attractive to investors, particular given the recent boost in support from the Government (here).

Existing packages start at just £20 per month for a 20Mbps service and rise to £50 for 1000Mbps, which includes a free installation and unlimited usage. Separately, it’s worth pointing out that the ISP will be making use of Openreach’s Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) product in order to help deliver on today’s plan.

Take note that Community Fibre should not be confused with BT’s entirely separate Community Fibre Partnerships scheme.

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