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Freedom Fibre Raise GBP100m to Accelerate UK Full Fibre Rollout

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022 (4:49 pm) - Score 1,368
Freedom Fibre Van and Engineer in Cherry Picker Box

Network operator Freedom Fibre (FF) has today secured a major £84m investment boost from infrastructure investor Equitix, alongside a £16m Santander debt facility, to help fund the expansion of their new 10Gbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network across semi-rural parts of North England.

Until today the operator, which is also being supported by an existing investment from major UK ISP partner TalkTalk, was already in the process of harnessing a £30m capital investment to help extend their full fibre infrastructure across various towns in parts of Cheshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, Shropshire and Greater Manchester.

NOTE: Some of FF’s early build locations have included Culcheth, Croft, Glazebury, Winwick, Weaverham, Leigh, Newton-Le-Willows, Stockton Heath, Whitchurch, Acton Bridge and Irlam etc..

The latest update states that Freedom Fibre’s network now covers almost 20,000 homes – mostly across parts of Cheshire and Greater Manchester – and they’re “on track to reach 70,000 premises by the end of this year,” which is a little lower than the earlier aspiration for 100,000 that we heard about last year.

Otherwise, the debt facility is said to be “on attractive terms” – apparently an endorsement of their business model and execution to date. The operator was advised on the deal by Oakley Advisory Limited and by Addleshaw Goddard LLP, along with PWC Debt advisory. Meanwhile, Equitix was advised by Cameron Barney and by Shoosmiths LLP.

We should add that they’re also making good use of Openreach’s existing cable ducts and poles (PIA) to run their own fibre, which is now fairly normal.

Neil McArthur, FF CEO, said:

“Freedom Fibre firmly believes Full Fibre should be a right, accessible to all, and not a privilege. This new funding is enabling us to support our long-term ambition to take fibre off the beaten track to semi-urban areas, providing fast, reliable connectivity with the best possible customer experience. We are excited to be driving forward our strategy to create an affordable, optical fibre network which will last for generations.”

Hugh Crossley, CEO for Equitix, said:

“We are looking forward to investing in and developing Freedom Fibre’s network roll-out. We believe Freedom Fibre is a strong business, operating in an essential infrastructure sector that has a critical role in providing connectivity for both the people and the economy of the North West.

This sizeable investment further enhances Equitix’s network infrastructure that distribute essential utilities to over 6.3 million customers across the UK and Europe. Freedom Fibre’s network roll-out will continue our strategic aims to provide local communities with affordable, high quality essential infrastructure.”

Interestingly, FF confirmed today that their “ultimate business plan” is now to reach more than 2 million premises in its chosen locations, although they haven’t stated when this might be achieved.

NOTE: Equitix is also a significant investor in Grain’s UK full fibre build (here).

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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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