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London FTTH Broadband ISP Community Fibre Raises Extra £25m

Monday, April 23rd, 2018 (7:35 am) - Score 1,707
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The UK government supported National Digital Infrastructure Fund has made its first big investment by putting £18m into Community Fibre, which aspires to bring 1Gbps “full fibre” broadband to more than 500,000 premises across London by 2022. Existing investor Railpen has also put in £7m.

At the time of writing Community Fibre expects to have extended their Gigabit capable FTTH/P broadband network to around 60,000 homes in London by the end of 2018 (mostly council / social housing) and in total they’ve already contracted to build 150,000 of their 500,000 aspiration.

The ISP has already secured £11.3m of private equity investment from Railpen (UK pension investors) to help support this (here) and now they’ve won another lot. In keeping with that the new round of investment (£25m total) is expected to help facilitate their roll-out of full-fibre ultrafast broadband connectivity to 100,000 homes in the city by 2019.

Jeremy Chelot, CEO of Community Fibre, said:

“This investment shows full-fibre is the only way forward for ultra-fast connectivity. Community Fibre is the partner of choice to deliver high-quality, fast pure fibre connection, to deliver sustainable investment and to support Government policy across the UK. This funding takes us a step closer to have our full-fibre network available to social housing or private landlords in every borough in London.

Last month, we were ranked as the fastest Internet Service Provider in the UK and we have a track record of delivering quality service to all customers at truly affordable rates. In addition to the homes we are connecting, thousands of people will benefit from this investment through the community engagement and upskilling programmes we run on all our instalment projects.”

Paul Bishop, Head of Private Markets at RPMI Railpen, said:

“We are pleased to welcome NDIF’s significant new investment in Community Fibre. As Community Fibre’s largest shareholder, we believe that It will continue to be a success and help us generate the returns that we need to meet our mission to pay members’ pensions, securely, affordably and sustainably.”

Crucially today also appears to represent the first major investment by the government supported Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF), which was setup in 2016 with £400m of public money (here) in order to help support the roll-out of full fibre and 5G mobile based ultrafast broadband networks.

The fund, which is focused upon assisting alternative network (AltNet) providers, is managed by two infrastructure investment firms – Amber Fund Management Ltd and M&G Investments (Prudential PLC). It’s previously been estimated that, when supported by private investment, the DIIF could be worth as much as around £1.5bn and might help to facilitate an extra 2 million premises passed via FTTH/P.

At present only around 3-4% of premises in the United Kingdom can access a “full fibre” network (roughly 1 million+ premises passed), which usually reflects a Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTH / FTTP) style service. However many more are on the way (see our summary of progress).

NOTE: DIIF is the umbrella term for two funds – NDIF (National Digital Infrastructure Fund), managed by Amber and DIF, managed by Infracapital/M&G. NDIF’s size is about £200m (will increase with future fund-raising), with £150m coming from government (via DIIF) and £45m from International Public Partnerships, a FTSE250 infrastructure investment company and £5m from Amber Infrastructure, respectively. NDIF is the source of today’s £18m investment.

Robert Jenrick, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“Today’s investment shows how we are delivering better broadband for Londoners who will benefit from fast connections. As we increasingly live our lives online, it is vital our digital connections can support this. We want to see full fibre broadband rolled out across the UK as quickly as possible and to support a competitive private sector in delivering that objective. That’s why we created the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, which is boosting the rollout of full fibre to enable people to live and work flexibly and productively, without connections failing.”

Meanwhile Community Fibre’s packages tend to start at just £20 per month for a 40Mbps service and this rises to £50 for a fully symmetric 1000Mbps connection, which includes free installation and unlimited usage (the speeds are symmetric – same speed both ways).

UPDATE 9:55am

Added a bit of extra detail above to clarify the separation between DIIF funds.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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