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ITS and 4th Utility to Cover 500k UK Premises with Full Fibre Broadband

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020 (1:55 pm) - Score 1,584
fibre optic router and cables 2020

Manchester-based UK ISP The 4th Utility and the ITS Technology Group (its.) in Cheshire have today signed a new partnership worth £15m, which will kick start a new project that aims to build “ultrafast broadband” connectivity to 100,000 homes within the next 12 months and then 500,000 before 2024.

At present ITS, which recently secured a funding boost of £45m from Aviva Investors (here), operates a number of fibre optic and hybrid wireless broadband networks across parts of the UK (usually via wholesale). The operator also has existing plans to cover 200,000 additional homes and businesses over the next few years.

By comparison The 4th Utility, which mostly caters for large apartment blocks (MDUs) and commercial properties, recently also secured a £25m investment boost of its own, albeit from DIF Capital Partners, to support the next phase of their own Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) rollout. The provider’s previous plan was to cover 10,000 properties by the end of 2020 and then 300,000 premises within the next 3 years.

Suffice to say that it sounds a lot like both providers intend to combine their respective deployment plans and strengths through this new 8-year partnership, although the announcement was woefully light on detail.

Tony Hughes, CEO of 4th Utility, said:

“This deal brings together two exciting UK broadband providers and by leveraging the ITS network, we will be able to significantly broaden our reach and the pace of our UK-wide rollout.

We believe in investing in high-quality fibre infrastructure and we offer a reliable solution that means super-fast full fibre broadband can be ready to go from day one. That’s become more important than ever with so many people across the country now working from home for the foreseeable future.

We’ll be rolling out thousands of new and retro fit installations in the coming months and we’re pleased to have agreed this long-term partnership that will allow us to deliver our ambitious plans for growth. We’re excited for the future, but we’re only just getting started.”

Daren Baythorpe, ITS CEO, said:

“We’re really excited to be working with 4th Utility. Our Faster Britain network has been lighting up whole regions of the UK with ultrafast full fibre and this partnership enables us to build more network to more places. The plans we’ve drawn up together are going to improve the digital lives of the homes and businesses we connect.”

One challenge above is that the stated funding would not be nearly enough to build fresh connectivity to an additional 500,000 premises, particularly as we seem to be talking about a “full fibre” (FTTP) network. We suspect that their existing investors are most likely willing to put additional funding on the table in the future, provided the partnership can show that they’re able to deliver.

The announcement also fails to mention where these deployments will be occurring, but hopefully there will be more detail on that in the near future so that we can judge its progress. No doubt the pair will also be seeking to benefit from the Government’s forthcoming £5bn gigabit programme, which aims to upgrade connectivity across the hardest to reach final 20% of UK premises.

UPDATE 19th Nov 2020

Jimmy Acton, CTO at 4th Utlity, has kindly helped to clarify some points: “4th Utility will remain focused on the rollout utilising the recent £25m investment to residential homes across the UK. The partnership will see the backhaul connections utilised with ITS across their network and further afield where necessary and they will build out to meet our requirements. Focus will be clustered to meet demand for fibre and deliver at a pace the UK is crying out for.”

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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.
Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Gavin says:

    Hopefully good news for the people of Greater Manchester, if they decide to deploy it there. For some reason, apart from Openreach and VM, none of the other network builders have made any significant inroads in to the Greater Manchester area.

    1. A_Builder says:

      Rather odd the lack of Alt Net interest in Greater Manchester

      Must be a good reason for that.

      Maybe it is too big for an Alt Net to swallow? Even that is odd as there a loads of MDU’s that have flying up all over the place since 2000 and these would be ideal for HyperOptic or Community Fibre to roll out into. And it is perfectly feasible to build out from a City Centre hub….or in from an outlying DC…..weird…

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      To be fair there is a fair bit of activity going on in Manchester, not least through the https://cni.coop/ , but it takes time to build new fibre.

    3. A_Builder says:

      @MJ

      Agreed.

      But still I find it strange that the usual MDU crowd have not moved in force.

      It may be that the Manchester ring model is actually not that attractive or just because it is different it is something else to get their heads around?

  2. G_Dog says:

    We can’t get VM where we are in Altrincham, and the max our connection can get is 34mbps on an 80/20 FTTC profile (are connected to a street cabinet 1.2km away, we’re the furthest wires from it).
    Do get a bit jealous reading about all these initiatives to install FTTP everywhere when it feels like there is no prospect in sight of that happening here.
    We were one of the first to get FTTC in these parts and were part of the 80/20 upgrade trial when it happened, felt like light-speed to me at the time. 8 years later, feels like we’re in the slow lane compared to many!
    Still, realise that there are plenty that don’t get close to 30mbps and probably have even less prospect of FTTP being viable, so I shouldn’t really complain.
    If these guys did happen to rollout FTTP in my area, would I have to leave my current ISP and move over to them to get it?

    1. Leex says:

      Altrincham seems to be very anti mobile/tech area as almost all the 2 + 2 (o2/Vodafone + ee/3) main networks have extremely limited coverage with no in between shared masts to fill in the gaps (I get a better signal in middle of nowhere then I do in Altrincham)

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