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Axione Aims to Cover 4 Million UK Premises with Gigabit Broadband

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021 (4:53 pm) - Score 2,328
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Back in 2019 we reported that a subsidiary of French communications provider Axione S.A.S, Axione UK, planned to rollout a wholesale Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network for ISPs to harness in the UK (here). The operator has now setup a new company, Axione Fibre, to do exactly that with £300m of initial funding.

At this point the UK market is already awash with alternative network (AltNet) providers (Summary of Full Fibre Build Progress), but that doesn’t seem to have dampened Axione’s resolve. Supported by its shareholders – Bouygues Energies & Services and Vauban Infrastructure Partners – Axione Fibre will target build for both sub-urban and rural areas.

Under the plan, the new company will design, build and operate a wholesale full-fibre network. Based on an open access network model, Axione Fibre acts as a wholesale-only operator partnering with internet service providers, integrators, operators and channel partners to offer ultrafast broadband services to end-users.

Some £300m has already been raised (equity) for the first phase of this “large-scale project,” which aims to reach 4 million premises throughout the UK. But at the time of writing, there’s no mention of a clear rollout plan or timescale.

Dominique Astier, MD of Axione UK, said:

“Full-fibre networks are essential infrastructure to deliver digital services to all residential, corporate and public sector premises. Axione is delighted to partner with Vauban to create Axione Fibre, a large scale FTTP pure wholesale operator targeting small towns and villages across the UK.”

Pierre Vanstoflegatte, MD of the Bouygues Construction Energies & Services Division and President of Axione, said:

“Having proved the strength of its model in France, Axione is leveraging its expertise in the UK, a key market in the development strategy of Bouygues Construction’s energy and services division, through Axione Fibre. In all the countries in which we operate, we want to do more to deliver essential resources to local and regional communities, helping them to forge their future. Digital infrastructure forms the basis of this value-creating digital transformation.”

The move is the first significant UK development that we’ve seen from Axione / Axione UK since they secured a Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) contract in Aberdeenshire a couple of years ago. The operator also expressed a serious interest in Scotland’s R100 procurement, but that contract ultimately went to BT (Openreach).

At the end of the day, Axione UK may face a difficult challenge in a market that is already chocked full of AltNets and quite a few of which will end up overbuilding each other. Nevertheless, Axione is the sort of company with the right experience, funding and drive to actually make good on their promises, unlike some others. Time will tell, and what we need right now is a little more detail.

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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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7 Responses
  1. Hungry Dog says:

    Another day, another FTTP provider in the fray…

    So if they plan to pass 4 million premises (no small task, given Openreach have just barely reached that number earlier this year and City Fibre are…..well a long way off) – where is the extra funding coming from or are they actually expecting to build for £75 per premises passed. That would be literally amazing or will they just build to 400,000 premises @ £750 per premises passed!

    1. NE555 says:

      £300m is “initial funding”, so I’d guess they’re planning to do 0.5m – 1m with that.

      Still, with many of the cherries already picked, with Cityfibre well in front and with large wholesale customers already locked in, it’s hard to see where their business will come from.

      I expect they’ll be simply another rider on PIA, rather than doing their own civils, but that’s limiting too.

      It’s all going to come crashing down sooner or later – whether it’s like the cable networks in the 1990’s, or the railways in Victorian times.

    2. David says:

      @NE555 – Exactly my thoughts too. I suspect this will end up being another provider with big ambitions, insufficient funding to achieve and result in an unprofitable network. I can’t see them winning any large wholesale contracts at this point.

  2. Buggerlugz says:

    What a complete farce, so I guess it’ll be only new builds no-doubt? Never the millions of homes stuck on twisted pair with crap VDSL still is it?

    1. CarlT says:

      Had a few drinks by 8pm, Lugz?

      Zero evidence they’re going after new build, rather smaller towns: home to those stuck on twisted pair having neither cable or FTTP.

    2. Paul M says:

      Cambridge Fibre recently leafleted our village to try and get some traction and collect the grant money available.

      I doubt they’ll get enough take-up, people around here were so apathetic that when the BT Community Fibre scheme was up, which would have garnered £180k in grants, only 8% of households signed up.
      Most people will buy the cheapest service and bitch about performance and customer service, rather than pay a little extra for higher and consistent speed, and decent customer service.

  3. Gordon C says:

    The are installing in Stonehouse (town 4m from Strathaven) as we speak along with Openreach FTTP. The have also started installing in Strathaven which only has around 8k pop and no immediate plans from Openreach. A third provider, goFibre (Borderslink) is also installing. None are live here yet

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