Hyperoptic, the UK’s largest gigabit broadband provider, has completed a debt raise of one quarter of a billion pounds from eight leading international banks to extend its full fibre optic network to 50 towns and cities across the country by 2019.
This is the largest single investment in the United Kingdom for a full fibre optic network provider. And it is much needed, coming at a time when just 3% of UK premises can access the gold standard of fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband – leaving the UK trailing behind other developed nations, currently down at 32nd out of 34 OECD countries.
Hyperoptic is already powering nearly half a million homes and businesses with its 1Gbps service, giving customers internet speeds 22 times faster than the national average. This latest investment fully funds Hyperoptic’s project to reach two million homes by 2022, and then further expand the platform to five million by 2025.
The government’s target is for 15 million premises to have access to full fibre broadband by 2025, as outlined in July’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review. Hyperoptic alone will deliver one third of this target, at no cost to the taxpayer. Better still, Hyperoptic says its target could be reached sooner if more councils develop ‘group’ planning agreements such as those it has already signed with Southwark, Thurrock, Brent, Hammersmith & Fulham, Southampton, and the City of London.
In the past year, Hyperoptic has expanded its network to 10 additional UK towns and cities, and signed contracts in a further 14, bringing its services to over 50 cities and towns by Q1 2019. With its continuous investment in network expansion, supported by residential and business demand as well as increasing interest from councils, Hyperoptic is bringing its step-change full-fibre service to more areas of the country – bridging the digital divide and expanding local economies.
Hyperoptic’s network expansion is also set to create another 1500 jobs, more than doubling its current 600 staff across five offices. Following this latest funding, the company plans to recruit at least a further 400 employees by the end of this year and another 1000 by the end of 2019.
Hyperoptic was advised by LionTree Advisors and the deal was co-led by BNP Paribas and ING, with a funding club of eight Tier 1 banks including the co-leads, Royal Bank of Scotland, Societe General, Royal Bank of Canada, HSH Nordbank, NIBC, and Barclays. The issue was heavily oversubscribed, with all of the banks from the 2017 debt financing of £100m significantly increasing their commitment to Hyperoptic.
In a joint-statement by the two co-leading banks, Jean-Philippe Rouane from BNP Paribas and Jeroen Kleinjan from ING commented: “We have continually been impressed with the quality, scope and pace of Hyperoptic’s network, and are proud to partner with the UK’s leader in delivering gigabit speed to every urban centre.”
As CEO of Hyperoptic, Dana Tobak, observed: “Such large financial backing from prestigious investors is testament to the strength of Hyperoptic’s business model and proven track record for delivery. All our teams are forging ahead with one rally cry: Let’s Gigabit Britain.”
The company’s Chairman, Boris Ivanovic, added: “Hyperoptic has the vision, determination and means to lead the rollout of gigabit connectivity across this country, and smash the digital divide once and for all. I am proud that we have led by results. This latest round of funding is a tremendous recognition of our achievement and provides the impetus for making Hyperoptic the premier full fibre national network.”
Minister for Digital Margot James said: "We recently announced plans for a nationwide full fibre broadband network to build a Britain that's fit for the future. Commercial investment will play a crucial part of this, and Hyperoptic's commitment to deliver gigabit connectivity to more than 50 UK towns and cities shows that they match our ambitions."
Whether other providers can catch up with Hyperoptic’s achievements remains to be seen. The company has proven that alternative networks are an important catalyst for infrastructure competition and are more than capable of leading the way. – BCS Bureau