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ISP Wildanet Get £50m to Rollout FTTP Broadband in Cornwall UK

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 (10:18 am) - Score 2,040
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Broadband ISP Wildanet, which until recently had focused on deploying a wireless network across rural parts of Cornwall in South West England, has secured a major investment of £50m from the Gresham House British Strategic Investment Infrastructure Fund (BSIF) to help it deploy gigabit-capable full fibre.

A few short months ago we revealed that the provider, which was initially supported by an investment of around £1.15m from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (here), had changed its approach and was now preparing to deploy Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) infrastructure alongside their existing Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) solutions (here and here).

The new investment by Gresham House confirms that it will enable Wildanet to upgrade and expand their gigabit-capable network to continue to target the “underserved homes and businesses” of Cornwall, which it will do through a combination of a “new full fibre network” and “expansion of its fixed wireless network“.

The announcement claims that their new FTTP network, expected to be rolled out over the next 3 years (i.e. by the end of 2023), will ultimately combine with their wireless one to reach “60% of Cornwall’s properties” (an exact premises passed target for each is not stated). On top of that the new investment will also create up to 98 new Cornish jobs.

As part of this investment, BSIF will acquire a controlling interest in Wildanet; the funding commitment will be released across a series of milestones and may be supported by successor vehicle(s) to BSIF.

Ian Calvert, Wildanet’s CEO, said:

“I’m delighted for Cornwall and for Wildanet that we have been able to secure this investment from Gresham House. It will enable us to expand our network across more of the county, deploying fibre whilst expanding our fixed wireless network and ultimately create new jobs in Cornwall.

A fast, reliable internet connection means that many businesses and workers can operate from locations away from traditional business hubs which will drive economic growth in Cornwall. With households forecast to double the number of internet-connected devices in the next few years it’s clear that having a fast and reliable internet connection has become increasingly important. Our network also helps us to support initiatives to deal with digital exclusion which is a serious issue for Cornwall.”

Peter Bachmann, Fund Manager at Gresham House, said:

“This year, unlike any other, has brought home the importance of connectivity to the economic, social and health wellbeing of us all. Wildanet’s focus on digital inclusion for all of Cornwall, not just the easy to reach homes and businesses, allows us to invest to make a meaningful economic and social impact in line with BSIF’s strategy and objectives of backing innovative new Sustainable Infrastructure projects.

Our investment will help Wildanet to provide a great network for Cornwall, using the best available technology to create a truly gigabit-capable network that is vastly superior to and materially more energy efficient than copper-based broadband. BSIF’s investment will help address the targets, set out in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, for Cornwall by providing communications technology fit for modern society. This is exactly the type of strategically important sustainable project that we are looking to facilitate, while generating attractive returns for investors.”

The biggest challenge for Wildanet here is likely to stem from that fact that Openreach have already deployed a fairly extensive Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network across much of the county, which also gives customers plenty of ISP options to choose from, and a fair bit of that can do 1Gbps, although some of it may still be hobbled by the ECI 330Mbps limit (here).

On the other hand, Wildanet will no doubt be aware that Openreach doesn’t really have any gigabit-capable challengers in the county and they will thus be hoping to establish themselves as the incumbents primary rival. Such a move will be good news for competition and consumers, although Cornwall is a particularly rural part of the UK and that does make it both very expensive to deploy and harder to gain a return on any investment.

The provider may also struggle to make use of public funding in many locations, since that is usually only intended for use in poorly served areas (i.e. not ones that can already access an FTTP network).

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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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1 Response
  1. Norman says:

    So when is it coming to manchester11 post code we’ve been promised for years now we need to pay for something because it’s so slow here

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