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Broadband ISP TalkTalk Take Significant Stake in Freedom Fibre UPDATE

Friday, September 24th, 2021 (8:27 am) - Score 4,536
TalkTalk Logo on Blue Wall

Low cost UK internet and phone provider TalkTalk has this week become a company with “significant control” over alternative network operator Freedom Fibre (FF), which is currently building a new 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to homes in semi-rural parts of Cheshire and Lancashire (England).

Network builder Freedom Fibre, which was first spotted earlier this year working with ISP partner TalkTalk to serve the large village of Culcheth (here and here), recently revealed that they expect to exit the year with £30m of capital following a second major equity injection from an unspecified partner (here).

NOTE: FF are using 10 Gigabit PON kit from DZS to build their network. FF builds the network and then supplies access via wholesale to retail ISPs.

We’ve since also spotted FF working in the Warrington communities of Croft and Glazebury, as well as the nearby community of Winwick. The operator currently expects to cover 50,000 homes by mid-2022, with further scale funding anticipated from mid-2022 onwards (FF has previously been linked to a target of reaching 100,000 premises by the end of 2022).

The operator was founded by Neil McArthur, who has 30 years’ experience in the UK telecoms sector and also founded Opal Telecom, which ultimately became part of TalkTalk. After that, Neil also founded the TalkTalk owned FibreNation division and held the position of CEO there, until it was gobbled up by CityFibre for £206m (here). Prior to that, FibreNation was the vehicle for TT’s national FTTP rollout.

Suffice to say that TalkTalk has had close ties with Freedom Fibre since the beginning, and now it looks like the ISP, which at the end of last year was sold to Toscafund for £1.1bn (here), is suddenly keen to get back into the infrastructure building game after exiting it last year. Clearly, the new owners have a different plan.

This week ISPreview.co.uk spotted that, on 22nd September, the TalkTalk Telecom Group was named as a “person with significant control” over FF by Companies House (i.e. the size of their stake is said to be between 25% and under 50%). At the same time, Neil Mcarthur ceased being a person with significant control of FF and the network builder also appointed a new Director, Nick Gunga, who just so happens to be TalkTalk’s MD of Fibre & Wholesale Services.

We have asked TalkTalk to comment and are awaiting their response. The development comes only a day after the ISP announced the creation of almost 180 new jobs (i.e. 123 vacancies across the business and 56 new Kickstart roles), which came after the “first wave” of young people completed their 6-month Kickstart placements.

UPDATE 12:25pm

We’ve had a response from TalkTalk.

A Spokesperson for TalkTalk said:

“We can confirm TalkTalk Group has made a small investment in Freedom Fibre. This is part of our ongoing commitment to support start-ups here in the Noth West, given our Salford base.

We thoroughly welcome and support competition in FTTP supply and we look forward to working with Freedom Fibre and other AltNets on their rollout plans.”

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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. Peter says:

    I wonder if this will then be sold to CityFibre after a good amount of rollout

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