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Nexfibre Secure £250m Debt Investment for UK Full Fibre Rollout UPDATE

Monday, Jul 17th, 2023 (3:01 pm) - Score 2,344
virgin_media_o2_uk_fibre_digger

Network operator nexfibre, which is working with broadband ISP Virgin Media (VMO2) – at wholesale – to deploy a new 10Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network across up to 7 million extra UK premises, has today secured an additional £250 million debt investment from the UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB).

Just to recap. VMO2 largely completed their own broadband network expansion programme at the end of 2022 (16.1+ million UK Homes Serviceable). But since then the vast majority of new XGS-PON powered FTTP broadband build has come under nexfibre‘s new wholesale network, which is a closely linked joint venture company that was setup in 2022 by Telefónica, Liberty Global and InfraVia Capital Partners (here).

NOTE: At present, Virgin Media remains nexfibre’s only anchor tenant ISP and they’ve struggled to attract others, but that may change once coverage grows (currently c. 200,000 premises).

The £4.5bn aim (£1.4bn in equity and £3.1bn in debt raised from private investors) of nexfibre is to expand full fibre to reach “up to” 7 million additional UK homes – staring with 5 million by 2026 (i.e. those homes not currently served by Virgin Media). In theory, this could push the combined VMO2 and nexfibre footprint to around 80% of UK premises by 2028 (up to 23 million premises), which is a similar level to Openreach’s planned FTTP build (i.e. 25 million by Dec 2026).

The latest £250m debt investment from the UKIB is thus designed to support nexfibre’s rollout plan. The loan is said to be specifically “targeted towards” helping to deploy FTTP into “locations which have to date had poorer digital connectivity or historically lower productivity.” In theory, such investment could thus help to boost growth in these areas and reduce existing inequalities in accessing vital digital services.

The funding boost means that nexfibre is now “fully financed to deliver its plan to provide full-fibre broadband to 5 million homes by 2026,” although it’s too early to judge how viable this approach will be for them and to go beyond 5 million would still require additional investment. We also expect that nexfibre may bid on some of the Government’s future £5bn rural Project Gigabit broadband rollout contracts, although they’ve so far yet to win any.

UPDATE 20th July 2023

The UKIB has clarified that their £250m debt investment forms part of the £3.1 billion of fully underwritten and fully syndicated debt financing that has already been announced for the project.

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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
10 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jordan says:

    mark, as you said “those homes not currently served by Virgin Media” however, i found a area where this road has HFC by VM and Nexfibre is building at this same road. So i think they are doing both non existing customers and customers on vm already.

    https://prnt.sc/nSpW043ssPwK

    You can check this link for a screenshot from bidb.

    Also wish VM had a list of locations they are doing for XGS-PON as this location im showing you is in London.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      If it’s at road level, then we can’t see if there’s a clear split between individual premises or only a minor overlap, as sometimes may occur. Equally, it may be the case that, in some specific locations, it may be easier to do FTTP via nexfibre’s approach than the direct HFC to XGS-PON upgrade path.

      But the overarching goal is for nexfibre to focus on different areas from VM’s own fibre, otherwise they’d be cannibalising their existing build and that’s a waste.

  2. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

    Wonder why they needed to borrow from a state owned lender that’s already been savaged by MPs for a lack of vision and purpose?

    Potential answers might include that private backers regard the investment as too risky, or that the state owned lender is under-cutting commercial banks. Either way, it’s regrettable to see an expensive public sector body doling out money to underserving causes owned by Liberty Global (US), Telefonica (Spain), and Infravia (France).

    1. Avatar photo adam w says:

      Probably because the Tories massively failed on Boris’ idiotic target for 100% gigabit connectivity by 2025 and post-brexit Britain needs all the international help it can get UK telcos caught up with the Europes best

  3. Avatar photo Obi says:

    If they are targeting “locations which have to date had poorer digital connectivity or historically lower productivity” would that mean the 3% (including me) stuck on speeds lower than Superfast? If they serve my home before Community Fibre I’ll switch straight away

    1. Avatar photo FibreEng says:

      I’m not sure on their ambitions either, they seem to be doing my area when most have already signed up to Openreach FTTH. Also done quite a bit of areas already covered by CF and OR FTTH recently too.

  4. Avatar photo Jack says:

    Still a little bit vague about where these targeted areas are located. Also, whether they are filling in gaps left my Virgin themselves, or completely new areas with no previous coverage whatsoever.

    It’s probably not in their interest, but filling the gaps if possible would help. I know so many people living in streets missed in otherwise blanket Virgin coverage who would sign up in a heartbeat!

    1. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      I guess very unlikely to be infill for gaps within existing VM footprints* because those gaps will mostly fail the likely tests on digital connectivity and economic output that will probably be at LSOA level, which generally covers around 600 properties, so a street or two missed generally won’t pass the test. If you’re talking about an entire economic backwater town that doesn’t yet have either FTTP or cable, then that’s potentially partially supported by the money, but don’t forget it’s still not going to be 100% cover.

      *If you’re between the toes of an existing HFC network, then as far as VM are concerned you’re a fungus.

    2. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      ‘*If you’re between the toes of an existing HFC network, then as far as VM are concerned you’re a fungus.’

      Yeah this is true. It gets much, much easier to fill these gaps once the HFC network has been overbuilt with full fibre.

      The solution they’ve used instead in those rare occasions they have done such an infill recently carries the worst of both solutions which explains their reluctance to do it again, and they’re too close to full fibre to use the legacy solution and extend the HFC plant.

  5. Avatar photo Jack says:

    The only way I’m going to get Virgin then is if they obtain CityFibre at some point as they have just laid cables here.

    Fungus indeed! Well in that case I’m a juicy piece of Chicken of the Woods or Beefsteak! Haha

Comments are closed

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