ITS to fast-track full-fibre roll-out gains with £45m investment

Gigabit network operator ITS plans to use latest funding to move into several new areas across the UK to build full-fibre networks which will pass at least 200,000 premises

UK gigabit network operator ITS has secured a £45m deal with Aviva Investors, the global asset management business of Aviva plc, to accelerate its ambition to build what it calls “transformational full-fibre networks” across the UK.

Operating a wholesale model, ITS networks are designed to give businesses and residential communities access to a choice of gigabit-capable connectivity services via a range of ITS partners, which include internet service providers (ISPs) and resellers.

Having recently launched a full-fibre network along the Fylde Coast in Lancashire, ITS currently operates across areas including Bristol, the East Midlands, Greater Manchester, North Wales, the north-east and south-east, including London.

The operator said the latest investment round would allow it to build on its current network footprint and develop several new full-fibre networks, to deliver gigabit broadband access to more premises. It added that the partnership with Aviva would also enable its networks to be “open access”, giving wholesale access to ISPs, network and mobile network operators, and IT resellers. This, it said, was designed to underpin the connectivity needs of businesses of all shapes and sizes.

The company also said it would be committing to the UK government’s “full-fibre to every premises” agenda. In December 2019, the newly elected UK government outlined plans to accelerate access to full-fibre broadband connections to 96% of the UK’s homes and businesses, principally by introducing laws to accelerate the delivery of gigabit-capable broadband across the UK, and mandated UK telecoms regulator Ofcom to prioritise full-fibre delivery across the UK.

Ofcom research found that at the end of 2019, UK full-fibre penetration stood at just 10%, and on 8 January 2020, it announced new regulations designed to help build a full-fibre network for the whole country.

ITS added that it would continue to re-use public and private infrastructure to accelerate the roll-out of its networks, and would also collaborate with its partner network to identify where the greatest demand for full-fibre services lies to prioritise build plans. 

The funding round would give ITS the ability to flex its re-use muscles and take advantage of opportunities ahead, said CEO Daren Baythorpe.

“We are really excited to be working in partnership with an investor of Aviva’s calibre,” he remarked. “This approach allows us to connect more customers to full-fibre far quicker than the industry norm. With BT’s public switched telephone and copper network switch-off plans now in progress, the race to build alternative, future-proof full-fibre IP-based networks is on to ensure coverage and choice for users. ITS is proud to be playing a role in achieving the UK’s ambitious plans.”

Sean McLachlan, senior director of infrastructure equity at Aviva Investors, added: “Aviva Investors is pleased to support the roll-out of ITS’s full-fibre broadband network. There is a clear and growing demand for this essential infrastructure across the country. The funding from Aviva Investors will allow ITS and its management team to build on its existing infrastructure and brand to accelerate its network expansion and to provide world-class infrastructure across the country.”

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