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G.Network to Invest £1bn in London Gigabit Broadband Rollout

Monday, December 14th, 2020 (1:00 pm) - Score 6,192
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UK ISP G.Network has today secured a major fund raise from USS and Cube Infrastructure Managers, which will enable them to invest £1 billion to help deploy their gigabit speed Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network across 1.4 million premises in London (12 boroughs) over the next 5 years.

Until today the provider, which was initially supported by roughly £65m of private investment (here) and is partly owned by Luxembourg-based Cube Infrastructure Managers, had been busy deploying their “open access” (i.e. can be harness via wholesale by other ISPs) full fibre network across parts of London (since 2018/19). Despite being a fairly new entrant to this market, they’ve already built enough to cover around 160,000 premises.

NOTE: G.Network currently employ around 250 staff but this will now rise.

Earlier this year we reported that the operator was in the process of seeing additional investment to help fund their future plans (here) and that process clearly went extremely well. The deal includes a new equity investment by USS, the UK’s largest private pension scheme by way of assets, of “up to£295m over 6 years in G.Network’s parent; as well as debt secured from four banks of “up to£745m, which is “contingent on passing certain milestones.”

The deal, which is also expected to create 1,250 new jobs (mostly engineers), marks one of the largest single agreements for an alternative network provider since Cityfibre’s announced their original £2.5bn FTTP rollout plan in 2018, which itself has since grown to £4bn (here).

gnetwork_investment_deal

G.Network is currently working with 8 local authorities and say they will bring their FTTP rollout to a further 5, while “aiming to connect at least 80% of premises in each“. Overall, the Company plans to dig around 4,500km of streets, reaching approximately 1.4 million London premises, including many in underserved areas.

Sasho Veselinski, G.Network CEO, said:

“High speed, reliable connectivity is critical to the home and work lives of Londoners. That’s why G.Network is undertaking a fundamental upgrade of the capital’s telecoms infrastructure from copper to fibre. We are rebuilding London’s broadband from the fibre up, bringing first-class connectivity to residents and businesses without expecting them to pay more. We’re very pleased to be working with USS, Cube and our banking partners on this project, and look forward to many years of successful partnership.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“This additional investment is great news for our city and will mean new jobs in infrastructure and faster internet speeds for Londoners at home and at work. At a time when so many are reliant on good connectivity, we’re encouraging more investment in full fibre by working with London’s 32 boroughs and TfL to provide better access across the capital.”

The move puts G.Network on course to build itself into becoming a serious competitor to establish giants like Openreach (BT) and Virgin Media, as well alternative network providers like CommunityFibre and Hyperoptic that also have a strong fibre base in London. No doubt we’ll see more overbuild between these networks going forward.

The announcement comes after the UK Government watered down their own £5bn Gigabit Broadband Programme target, which might be taken as a sign that the appetite to invest in full fibre infrastructure has not been dampened. But admittedly the government’s programme is focused on uncompetitive rural areas, while this one is targeted at a much more competitive urban market.

Residential packages tend to start from £28 inc. VAT per month (£22 on a special offer) for an unlimited 150Mbps (50Mbps upload) service, which includes a free wireless router and connection. The cost rises to £57 per month for their top 900Mbps symmetric tier (£48 on a special offer), available on a 12 or 24 month contract term.

Rothschild & Co acted as principal financial advisor to G.Network on this transaction, which is expected to complete in the next few days. Meanwhile DC Advisory acted as financial adviser to USS. DLA Piper UK LLP and Clifford Chance LLP also acted as legal advisers to G.Network in connection with the equity and debt aspects of the transaction, respectively. Linklaters LLP acted as legal advisers to USS.

Investec Bank PLC also acted as underwriter on this transaction for the debt.

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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.
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17 Responses
  1. Tim says:

    Yay. A large area of London will have 3+ independent FTTP network.

    1. Jonny says:

      The majority of the G.Network footprint is in ADSL-only locations, or Virgin Media at a push. There is very little FTTP in central London.

  2. Lee says:

    I’m reliably informed that there are places outside of London, but apparently ISPs haven’t gotten that memo.

    1. A_Builder says:

      Really: is there life outside the M25?

      I thought all civilisation stopped before Watford Gap?

    2. Jordan says:

      There is barely any FTTP in my area and im in London… so stop acting like London has FTTP everywhere. Im with VM since other companies just offer FTTC.

    3. A_Londoner says:

      It’s a bit tiring reading this kind of comment tbh. There are plenty of areas in London with poor connectivity. Given the population, wealth (all types) and size you would _expect_ to see London covered fully as a high priority – but it is not. So please, can we stop with this “London gets everything, all the time” argument, it’s simply not true … thanks!

    4. James Brown says:

      I agree with A_Londoner. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see all the investment in rural areas, but it looks like something must be wrong commercially when so many large London blocks are still using copper DSL.

    5. 125us says:

      They’ll go wherever they can make the best return for their investors. These ISPs aren’t charities or community owned not-for-profits. If no-one is rolling out FTTP where you live it’s because there are richer pickings elsewhere.

    6. Rahul says:

      @125us: This is a misconception that I have read so many times here. Yet, try and explain how an area like Peckham that is one of the poorest areas of London, how their FTTP coverage is so high? It is all because of a successful Southwark Council agreement with both Hyperoptic and CommunityFibre that led to the entire borough of Southwark having high coverage as observed in the map. That’s why they have overbuilds as well, not because they are rich or more worthy areas.

      In fact, most of these are council flats with poor people, high unemployment. Because gaining wayleave agreement in social housings are often easier thanks to the council agreement (no private ownership).

      While last year there was an article on “Owner of £3,000,000 flat sues developer because it didn’t have broadband”

      The Heron Tower in Barbican must be aristocratic, right? Yet, they were having less than 10Mbps ADSL only! This is all because the property developer did not grant wayleave for Full Fibre. Eventually they managed to get Hyperoptic, but still it is pretty pathetic that, that’s all they have for a 3 million pound apartment so far. Still no FTTC or FTTP from Openreach.

      Yet, I know Chicksand and Spelman House in Spitalfields. They have rats inside their flats, I’m not kidding! But they have overbuild FTTP from CommunityFibre and Virgin Media and are on the verge of a 3rd FTTP overbuild with Hyperoptic. This is all because of the Spitalfields Co-operative Housing Association agreement.

      If certain areas have no FTTP rollout, it is not because they are ignored by the ISPs. It is because the property developer is blatantly not responding to their proposals. Most of us are not aware of it, because the property developer is secretly rejecting those agreements from happening without informing the residents.

    7. 125us says:

      @Rahul. You’re rather missing the point. Homes for the extremely wealthy don’t tend to be very densely built, making rollout more expensive.

      Fibre will go where there are high densities of properties with occupants able to afford broadband and with a propensity to buy.

    8. Rahul says:

      @125us: That doesn’t apply for the Heron Tower in Barbican, which has 46 floors.

      The residents in Barbican are much more economically prosperous than the people living in social council flats in Peckham or Brick Lane. Plus it was a newly built building, albeit in 2008 before FTTP had any popularity in the UK.

      There are plenty of highly dense properties in the City of London, such as Aldgate area. But because most of the residential buildings are not social housing and are owned by a different sets of private property developing companies, it is perhaps more difficult to make a separate agreement for each and every one of them so the rollout is being delayed.

      This is different from London Borough of Southwark where a cluster of buildings are all ruled by Southwark Council, where an agreement that is granted is set to make an immediate rollout for them all.

      My point is that when a wayleave is rejected, the building management does not inform the residents. I’m a Hyperoptic Champion of my building, I was not aware of the wayleave rejection until Hyperoptic emailed me to ask for my assistance in speaking with my building management. When I spoke to my building estate manager only then I was aware that they are stopping the ISPs from rolling out FTTP. This was the case for both Hyperoptic and Openreach. If the residents were complaining why they didn’t have FTTP and blamed the ISPs this wouldn’t have made sense since it is the housing management that is often more to be blamed.

      When the wayleave legislation comes into effect, we will not be having this discussion anymore. But until this doesn’t happen, we will continue to have this baseless argument.

  3. Josh Welby says:

    I agree with Jorden,
    I live in North West London
    and there is on Virgin or FTTC
    and no sign of FTTP outside
    of New builds that have Hyperoptic

  4. Josh Welby says:

    I agree with Jorden,
    I live in North West London
    and there is only Virgin or FTTC
    and no sign of FTTP outside
    of New builds that have Hyperoptic

  5. London says:

    G.Network dug up a road near me 18 months ago. no one on that street can get it yet.

    I’m moving next week – no FTTP there either. London may look like it’s getting something, but it isn’t. Amazing that there are probably more articles on this site about FTTP Providers and projects outside London but the abuse is only on this one.

  6. Sunil Sood says:

    Do we know which 12 London boroughs they are planning to cover in the next 5 years?

    PS: the press release on their website says its 13 boroughs but the question remains..

  7. Rahul says:

    I spoke to a Development Manager called Luke from G.Network last year July via email that they’ve surveyed my building with “a viewpoint to development” but to expect to hear later in the year. I’ve explained the wayleave issue but been told that to gather more registered interests from residents.

    Of-course the demand from residents is always there, especially in my case, we didn’t even have FTTC until October 2019. Living in Central London, there are still many places on EO Lines that still don’t have FTTC never mind FTTP. I’m lucky to have FTTC.

    You’ll find that in Central London FTTP coverage is scattered and disproportionate between several areas and buildings that have 1 or 2 FTTP overbuilds and perhaps even an agreement for a third FTTP provider, which I myself have seen from searching various postcodes.

    But areas that have difficulty obtaining wayleave usually won’t have a single FTTP provider at all. The same goes for Virgin Media, if you see a building in Central London with Virgin Media, usually they have an agreement granted for another altnet FTTP provider.

    Personally I think having multiple FTTP overbuilds at this stage is not helpful and isn’t the right time. Companies should target premises that have no FTTP coverage first. But since it is difficult to obtain wayleave, they ignore/give up and only target the premises that already easily grant wayleave and this is the reason why we see overbuilds!

  8. LDN_desperate says:

    In London with no VM and no FTTP….Go G.Network Go!

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