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Community Fibre Invest £400m in Mass London FTTP Fibre Rollout

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020 (11:31 am) - Score 3,304

London-focused broadband ISP CommunityFibre has today announced a major investment of £400 million to help fuel a huge expansion of their 10Gbps speed capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network across the UK’s capital city, which is being funded by global equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC and management group DTCP.

Until now the provider has been working to roll-out their own gigabit “full fibre” network to cover more than 500,000 premises by the end of 2022, which was supported by an initial investment pot of around £90m from private investors (e.g. Amber Infrastructure and RPMI Railpen) and Government backed schemes. So far they’ve already built to cover more than 100,000 premises (mostly large apartment blocks, such as social housing) and have plans tabled for 370,000.

However, today’s announcement means that Community Fibre will aim to roll-out their full fibre broadband network to 1 million London households and businesses by 2023 (i.e. homes usually get speeds of up to 1Gbps, while businesses can access the top 10Gbps service).

The significant new deal will see investors Warburg Pincus and DTCP (advised by Greenhill) acquire a controlling stake in the ISP. On completion of the transaction, expected within a few weeks, Olaf Swantee will also join the provider as Executive Chairman. Olaf is perhaps best known in the UK as the former CEO of mobile operator EE (BT), which helps to show how important this network has become.

NOTE: Community Fibre was advised on the deal by Jefferies International Limited.

Olaf Swantee, CF’s Incoming Executive Chairman, said:

“I am excited to be joining a business in a sector that I am passionate about, where there is a clear vision and purpose. Working alongside blue chip investors such as Warburg Pincus, DTCP, Amber Infrastructure, and RPMI Railpen, will also open up new and exciting growth opportunities.”

Rene Obermann, Co-Head of Europe and MD of Warburg Pincus, said:

“Community Fibre aims to close the digital divide and promote social inclusion. Affordable high speed internet for London’s social housing, and free Gigafast connection to community centres and libraries will create limitless opportunities in education, recruitment, and training, with one click of a button.”

The move creates a much more significant competitor for established operators like Openreach (BT) and Virgin Media, as well as other rapidly growing full fibre players in the capital like G.Network. It’s also a sign of another alternative network (altnet), beyond the familiar names of Cityfibre and Hyperoptic, that has now managed to successfully grow into a much larger operation and over a fairly short space of time.

The fact that CF’s own full fibre packages are so cheap will certainly give all of those players something more to worry about. Residential packages tend to start at just £20 per month for a 50Mbps package (installation is free) and rise up to £49 for 920Mbps (average speeds). The overbuild picture in a few years time is certainly going to be interesting.

Meanwhile those of us still stuck with no access to or current plans for FTTP can only look onward in envy. At least we’re not alone in that long wait for something better than ADSL or FTTC.

Leave a Comment
10 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew says:

    This means it will cover around 1/4-1/3 of London Homes I believe now ? Which is a significant amount of the capital for certain.

  2. Avatar Cesar says:

    Finally after only having access to 10mbps down on Wapping, I got Gigabit internet with Community Fibre a few weeks ago. I couldn’t be happier.

  3. Avatar Jordan says:

    Finally a company in London is doing something most fibre companies in London dont even bother finishing London first, like how does that make sense?

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      I think the issue is that each ISP has a business model.

      HyperOptic – MDU’s
      CommunityFibre – MDU’s now -> SDU’s

      CF have gone as far as they can with LA MDU’s so need to widen out.

      This is going to get very interesting.

      However, I would sound a note of caution. Scaling SmallCo-> BigCo is not easy and CF are starting to fail in admin functions that would have been unthinkable 18 mo this ago.

      For instance I have an ongoing billing issue unresolved for 6 months with CF……

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      Because there is more to the UK than London, and some of those areas are more profitable to build in than some of London.

      Regardless of where the company is based.

      Bits of London are a dream. Some is an absolute nightmare to serve.

  4. Avatar Sunil Sood says:

    Any insight into what areas of London are likely to be covered under this?

  5. Avatar Rahul says:

    This investment will help initiate the rollout of FTTP by Community Fibre but ONLY in areas that will pass wayleave agreement. But if your residential property gets rejected, this funding will make no difference in resolving wayleave disputes with your building management.

    For example my residential building (postcode) was showing as coming soon a few months ago.

    Coming soon

    We will be in your street soon. Please register your interest below to keep informed when you will be able to receive London’s fastest 100% full fibre Internet.

    This then reverted back to this —>

    We’re not in your area

    Register your interest now for free to keep up to date with the latest development and stay informed about Community Fibre’s progress.

    This suggests that my management company EastEndHomes likely rejected wayleave for Community Fibre just as they typically did with Hyperoptic and Openreach FTTP.

    Only areas in London that successfully pass wayleave will get upgraded to Community Fibre. If your building e.g. got rejected for Hyperoptic, it is very likely that it will be rejected for Community Fibre as well. This is why you also don’t see Virgin Media serving these areas, because they also need permission to install their cables into private premises.

    1. Avatar Sunil Sood says:

      As you know the Government are currently updating the rules to make access easier for firms with code powers : https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2020/06/lords-make-changes-to-telecommunications-infrastructure-bill.html

      For the rest, it’s up to you to apply pressure on the management company with the other owners/tenants of your flats

    2. Avatar Rahul says:

      Yes, I’ve seen this article last month. But this is basically House of Lords proposals. Anything discussed in Lords is not going to necessarily be officially implemented. Those amendments+proposals have to be approved in the House of Commons for it to be a legislation.

      Until that doesn’t happen, the current situation remains as it is. I don’t doubt a legislation will happen one day, but I am not very optimistic of it happening any time soon. Maybe within 2-3 years changes may happen to ease those restrictions.

      The problem is that when you have tenants mostly living in your building, rather than the leaseholders those tenants are reluctant to apply pressure on the management company knowing that they’ll move out at any time making them less interested to apply pressure for Full Fibre. An example is leaseholders meetings, it is only leaseholders that are interested in attending those meetings, but not the tenants.

      Also with FTTC being available to the majority, most will think they don’t need Full Fibre and are happy with 60-80Mbps.

  6. Avatar Matt says:

    I own a flat in a tower block that currently has access to 70mbit VDSL, fine for now, but not the future. We were approached by Hyperoptic to install fibre to the building, a survey was completed, the freeholder granted permission, then our residents association rejected the proposal due to “noise and mess to residents” during the proposed 1 week installation works. That was the end of that.

    I wonder what the future holds in situations such as this. When the copper network is turned off will we will be left with only 5G access? Or will BT have some form of power to enforce the installation of FTTP? I do not expect 5G to be great for low latency applications once the 5G network is at 4G utilisation levels.

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