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MS3 Plan 10Gb Broadband for 500,000 Premises in North England

Monday, November 29th, 2021 (9:11 am) - Score 3,696

Hull-based alternative network ISP MS3, backed by European infrastructure fund Asterion, has today revealed a major expansion of their existing service, which will see them deploy a new 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network to serve over 500,000 homes and businesses across the North of England.

At present MS3 runs more of an independent Dark Fibre and business focused broadband network in Hull (East Yorkshire), which also serves a number of homes via a limited FTTP broadband platform (off-shoot ISP connectHull). According to Ofcom’s data (here), their network currently passes 2% of all premises within Hull (well below KCOM’s level) and is within 50 metres of 8% of large business and mobile sites in Hull.

NOTE: Back in February 2021, MS3 unveiled plans for a £3.5m and 70km long “city-wide expansion” of their “full fibre” network in Hull (here).

The operator also has existing plans to cover a further 21,000 premises in the Hull Area with full fibre broadband, which would extend their network to reach around 13% of premises in Hull. But the new investment boost from Asterion Industrial Partners looks set to give their ambitions a major boost, even though it’s unclear preciously how much funding has been put on the table.

Under the new plans, MS3 will continue to act as more of a wholesale-only provider, thus the FTTP network they build will be designed to enable their existing and future ISP clients to provide up to 10Gbps connections to end-customers. The new network will build on their existing fibre ring through Hull and extend to more than “30 other locations in the region” (none have been named.. yet).

In addition to the new partnership and investment, MS3 has also announced the appointment of three new members of the executive team. Guy Miller, formerly of TalkTalk, joins as CEO. Zarif Imam, formerly of ZTE, joins as CFO and Chris Byrd, formerly of M247, joins as CTO. Founders Tony Hales and Ben Tarbotton will continue to perform an active role in the business.

Founder of MS3, Tony Hales, said:

“We are delighted that Asterion have seen the same opportunity that we see in expanding MS3’s network and look forward to working with them as we accelerate our fibre rollout at pace. I also welcome the members of the new management team who I have had the pleasure of working with throughout this process.”

Guy Miller, CEO of MS3, said:

“I am excited to join MS3 at this time, a business with an existing network, existing partner contracts and excellent relationships with civil contractors and councils alike. MS3 is well placed to become a major regional player in the full fibre market in the years to come.”

At present, the deal announcement is still very much into that ‘fibre to the press release‘ territory, not least because we don’t yet have any solid details on their rollout plan beyond Hull. On top of that, the alternative network (AltNet) space has, over the past couple of years, become aggressively competitive, with multiple operators like InternetTY, KCOM, Openreach, Grain and Virgin Media, among others, all operating in the North of England.

However, working in MS3’s favour is the fact that they’re a provider with a lot of established experience, and what’s more, they know how to fight from a difficult corner against a dominant rival (i.e. KCOM in Hull). The new management team is also a hit list of familiar names from the industry, which will no doubt help with their push into the wider market.

Nevertheless, there’s no escaping the fact that this is a difficult time to be announcing a major expansion. We are seeing a lot of full fibre AltNets starting to lock horns in the same areas (often small or medium-sized towns) and thus testing the bounds of what is or is not a viable business model. But as we said above, MS3 has enough experience in this market to know what works and what does not.

MS3 Networks was advised by TradeRisks and DLA Piper on the deal, while Asterion Industrial Partners was advised by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Alvarez and Marsal.

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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
14 Responses
  1. Always right says:

    Hull needs 10Gb.

    Lord knows nobody wants to go outside there.

  2. Hungry Dog says:

    “Fibre to the press release…”

    1. Aled says:

      I did like that phrase!

      I wonder if we could shorten it, perhaps FttPR?

  3. shaun says:

    I am currently doing a funded fibre engineer training course – If I pass it I will have a job and be part of this amazing revolution – I am so excited

    1. Paul. says:

      Good luck. Hopefully you’ll nail the end of course exam.

    2. shaun says:

      Thanks I am confident I will – had fun in the snow laying cables that’s for sure 🙂

    3. Pezza says:

      I’ve thought about this, but not sure about working in the rain and cold and snow! Still apart from exhaust fumes get lots of fresh air.

  4. yeehaa says:

    MS3 – sounds like the name of a criminal gang/drug cartel.

    1. Ray Wooward says:

      Wheeas “Yeeha” is totally acceptable …

  5. JamesBand says:

    Simply fantastic. Lucky for those in those areas.

    “You can’t expect officers to move up to the North! What about Wimbledon, Harrods, Ascot! Gigabit broadband!”

  6. Pezza says:

    Anyone can have this as surely once you have that fibre to your door, the only limiting factor of speed is the equipment at each end of the cable, as it’s a laser beam shooting up and down the cable?

    1. anonymous says:

      Yep, absolutely. Openreach and CityFibre are still installing 2.5G/1.25G GPON kit but could certainly add 10G/10G XGSPON.

  7. Pete Green says:

    Any idea how to check where this will be available. They are laying cables around the corner where I live in Hull.Great to see competition for Kcom who overcharge.
    I pay £54.99 just for lightstream.

    1. Claire reilly says:

      Yes it’s fantastic competition for Kcom and about time too . I live on north road and the works already been done here I’ll definitely be moving, Kcom’s service is crap a lot of the time and I’m sick of having no choice but to put up with it their customer service is also dreadful. I think this will hit Kcom very badly.

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