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£30m Funding Helps Rural Broadband ISP Voneus Target 900K UK Homes

Monday, August 5th, 2019 (10:34 am) - Score 2,725

Rural fixed wireless broadband ISP Voneus, which currently only covers around 4,500 UK premises with their 30-50Mbps capable network, has managed to secure a large investment from Macquarie Capital that could help their network to target 900,000 homes. Going forward they also intend to rollout full fibre (FTTP) services.

At present Voneus’s wireless network spans 25 communities in rural parts of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cheshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, South Wales, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Wiltshire. So far most of that has been powered by a 2017 funding injection of £9 million from BOOST&Co.

However the current market is a lot more focused on Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) services, which has perhaps left some Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) ISPs to feel a little apprehensive about their future. Nevertheless Voneus has today secured an initial commitment of £10m from Macquarie Capital, which includes the potential to invest up to £30m in phases.

The proceeds from this will be used to refinance debt and support the rollout of further high-speed broadband to communities in rural parts of the UK. Voneus said they will focus on the up to 900,000 homes across the countryside who still don’t have access to superfast broadband services, although it’s unclear how many of those will actually be connected.

Crucially the deal means that Voneus will now also be moving to build 1Gbps capable “full fibre” networks, although initially they will only aim to connect their “more established communities to full fibre broadband“.

Steve Leighton, CEO of Voneus, said:

“Macquarie Capital’s backing is a huge endorsement of Voneus’ business model and vision, as well as an indication of how much work still needs to be done to connect the many homes and business across the UK that still do not have access to decent broadband services.

Not only will it help us speed up the rollout of fixed wireless services in hard-to-reach communities, it means that – longer term – we will be able to add full fibre broadband to our portfolio; this will be a complete game-changer for these hitherto neglected areas.”

Oliver Bradley, Managing Director for Macquarie Capital, said:

“The roll-out of superfast and ultrafast broadband has too often focused on the UK’s urban centres – leaving untapped investment requirements in the UK’s rural communities. We believe that using Macquarie Capital’s unique principal investment and development expertise there is a significant opportunity to work with Voneus to accelerate the deployment of UK rural broadband, this will help unlock significant economic and social benefits for the UK.”

The level of investment stated above is obviously nowhere near enough to achieve 900,000 premises with full fibre, although the announcement doesn’t specify a time-scale for their deployment or state whether all of those will be achieved via FTTP or a mix of FTTP and FWA. Assuming the focus is on remote rural areas then they could perhaps reach 4,000 – 8,000 homes with full fibre on that first £10m (depending upon model and area).

The move may also have an impact upon Voneus’s arrangement with rural FTTP provider Gigaclear. Back in 2018 they entered into a partnership with Gigaclear (here), which saw them become a Gigaclear Retail Services Provider (wholesale) and this meant they could resell Gigaclear’s FTTP services (i.e. useful for when / if Gigaclear moves into some of their wireless network patch).

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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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3 Responses
  1. Avatar AnotherTim

    I read the 900,000 properties as the size of the market, not the size of their planned deployment. It just gives some confidence to investors that the market exists.
    However I’m not clear whether they are planning to build FTTP themselves, or whether they will just remain a Gigaclear reseller?

  2. Avatar TheFacts

    ‘up to 900,000 homes’

    up to.

  3. Avatar Fred

    They certainly were intending to be a Gigaclear re-seller in Priddy, Somerset – but Gigaclear are now 2+ years late in their CDS deployment. Maybe Voneus have given up on Gigaclear like the rest of us have? On the subject of CDS / Gigaclear, I understood that the end of July was the cutoff for agreeing a new roll-out schedule but the deafening silence suggests they may have failed to find agreement? Never mind, BoJo will sort them out….hahaha….

    As commented elsewhere, Voneus did let a lot of people down in Priddy by doing half a job in the village – a bit of a lottery about who got connected, left some people very unhappy. I was one of the lucky ones who did get connected.

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