Hyperoptic Gets £21m EU Loan To Expand 1Gbps FTTP Broadband Network

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Hyperoptic receives biggest ever UK internet loan from European Investment Bank (EIB) as it looks to expand its FTTP footprint

Fibre to the premise (FTTP) network provider Hyperoptic has secured a £21 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to expand its 1Gbps broadband service to more than 300,000 homes and businesses over the next three years.

The loan is the largest ever EIB investment in a UK Internet project, dwarfing the £18 million given to rural FTTP provider Gigaclear earlier this year. Hyperoptic has now secured £75 million in funding and is seeking to expand from the 13 cities is currently operates in to 20.

Hyperoptic expansion

packetfrontPortsmouth, Watford, Leicester, Southampton, Slough, Edinburgh and Woking are the seven new locations, joining London, Cardiff, Bristol, Brighton, Reading, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle and Nottingham.

“Hyperoptic is excited by the European Investment Bank’s investment, which will further fuel our roll out and addressable market expansion,” said Hyperoptic CEO Dana Toprak. “The confidence of both EIB and Soros Fund Management LLC supports the importance of FTTP in providing a boost to the UK’s digital infrastructure and economy.”

The EIB is funded by all 28 EU member states and dished out £5.6 billion to UK organisations last year, supporting £16 billion in overall investment. Overall, it has supplied £5 billion to telecoms firms including Vodafone, EE, British Telecom, Gigaclear, Arqiva and Inmarsat. Across Europe, the EIB has invested nearly €13 billion in the sector over the past five years.

Brexit risk

Of course, UK firms might not have access to this funding in the future following the decision to leave the EU following a referendum last month.

“The European Investment Bank is pleased to support Hyperoptic’s roll-out of super-fast broadband in cities across the UK,” said Jonathan Taylor, EIB vice president. “This exciting new initiative will transform economic activity, healthcare, education and access to key services and represents the EIB’s first targeted support to address slow urban communications in UK.”

The majority of superfast broadband connections in the UK are served by Openreach’s fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) infrastructure, which uses copper cables for the final few hundred metres. Critics argue this is not futureproofing the UK against the anticipated growth in demand for data.

Hyperoptic is one of a number of companies building FTTP networks, which use fibre for the entirety of the connection, boosting speeds. Other providers of ‘alternative’ infrastructure include CityFibre, which wants to become a wholesale alternative to Openreach, and Gigaclear, which serves rural communities.

BT plans on using a mixture of FTTP and G.Fast, which speeds up copper, to deliver ultrafast, while Virgin Media has promised that at least one quarter of the four million premises expected to be added to its network as part of the £3 billion Project Lightning will be connected via FTTP.

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