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First Hints of Axione’s GBP300m UK Gigabit Broadband Rollout

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022 (7:21 am) - Score 2,136
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Last August we reported that a subsidiary of French provider Axione, Axione Fibre (Axione UK), planned to build a new gigabit speed open-access wholesale Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network for ISPs to harness in the UK (here), which was backed by £300m (equity) of initial funding. We now know the first piece of their rollout plan.

The provider, supported by its shareholders (Bouygues Energies & Services and Vauban Infrastructure Partners), has previously confirmed that their “large-scale” build would aim to reach 4 million premises throughout the UK in both sub-urban and rural areas. But until now we had no idea of how long the rollout would take or where the build might begin.

The good news is that we now know one of their first build locations. According to Fife Today, the operator recently put in an application to install several new 1.6 metre tall street cabinets around the seaside town of St. Andrews in Fife (Scotland), which will also harness some of Openreach’s (BT) existing infrastructure (we assume PIA). The first cabinets will be deployed at North Car Park in Argyle Street, St Mary’s Place Car Park, and at two locations in North Street and South Street.

The fact that Scotland would be home to one of Axione’s first FTTP builds should come as no major surprise. The operator had previously expressed a serious interest in Scotland’s R100 procurement, but that contract ultimately went to BT. The operator also secured a Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) contract in Aberdeenshire a couple of years ago, albeit initially only to help connect public sector sites.

Pierre Vanstoflegatte, President of Axione, said:

“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.”

At present, the town is quite poorly served, although we note that Openreach has added several parts of Fife, including St Andrews, to their future FTTP rollout plan. However, it’s unclear exactly when that build will occur (i.e. it’s currently slated for anytime between now and 2026 – a frustratingly vague build window), which could allow Axione Fibre the opportunity of building a useful first mover advantage if they can deploy quickly enough.

Interestingly, it’s noted that the operator has been in talks with Fife Council for some time about developing its network, and several previously proposed locations for their new street cabinets were reportedly rejected, which may have slowed their plans. Hopefully more details will surface in the near future, as we still know very little about their plans.

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