Gigaclear raises GBP111m for rural broadband rollout
British pure-fibre provider Gigaclear has raised GBP111 million (USD143 million) in new equity which it will use to roll out additional infrastructure in rural areas, according to the Financial Times. It is understood that the company has secured the funding from existing investors Infracapital and Woodford Investment Management, while also bringing on Railpen, the railways pension scheme, as a new backer. With Infracapital contributing GBP60 million to the latest funding round, and Woodford Investment GBP15 million, Railpen has injected GBP35 million, while smaller shareholders have added a combined GBP1 million. The funds raised will reportedly be used to connect 150,000 premises to full-fibre networks within three years, as Gigaclear looks to deliver on contracts it has won in Herefordshire, Essex, Devon, Somerset, Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire. Gigaclear’s network passed 30,000 homes by the end of 2016, and the company claims to have a total addressable market of 1.5 million premises that are not expected to be covered by larger broadband infrastructure companies, such as BT’s network arm Openreach and Virgin Media.
Commenting specifically on Railpen’s funding, Matthew Hare, Gigaclear’s founder and CEO, noted: ‘It’s the communications revolution of the 19th century supporting the communications revolution of the 21st century.’ Meanwhile, Paul Bishop, investment director at Railpen, said its decision to invest in Gigaclear – which marks its first foray into the UK telecoms sector – reflected a view that full-fibre infrastructure investment is justified by the growing demand for data. ‘Data consumption is expected to continue to rise significantly over coming years and it is unlikely that existing infrastructure will be able to satisfy demand,’ said Mr Bishop.