Rural fibre firm Gigaclear gets £30m to build gigabit broadband

Rural FTTP infrastructure supplier Gigaclear receives its largest ever funding boost from investors as its network expands into new areas

Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband infrastructure supplier Gigaclear has received a £20m funding boost from Prudential’s Infracapital investment wing, and a further £10m from existing shareholder Woodford Investment Management, as its network build continues to expand to more out-of-the-way communities.

Gigaclear specialises in providing 1Gbps fibre-optic cable networks to villages and hamlets that are either underserved or bypassed altogether by the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme.

It currently operates 23 rural fibre networks in the UK and is building 31 more, with a potential target market of around 1.5 million homes and businesses.

It had previously announced plans to conduct a money-raising initial public offering, although this has not yet materialised, and also received a £6.5m funding injection in February 2015, a sum dwarfed by the latest investment.

Chief executive Matthew Hare hailed a major breakthrough for the altnet. He said the digital divide between cut-off rural communities and urban areas was still widening, and Prudential and Woodford’s investments served as a strong endorsement of Gigaclear’s business plan.

“These investments give us the resources needed to accelerate our roll-out over the next 24 months to many more communities,” he said.

Infracapital co-founder and director Ed Clarke added: “This is a unique opportunity to invest at an early stage in the development of high-speed communications infrastructure for the UK’s underserved rural population.

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"Gigaclear has enormous growth potential and we look forward to supporting Gigaclear’s management team in the build out of fast, high-quality broadband connectivity.”

Among the communities already benefiting from Gigaclear’s pure fibre infrastructure are a number of villages in Leicestershire’s Welland Valley, where a build commenced earlier in 2015.

Gigaclear relies extensively on a growing number of campaign groups to generate demand for its services to a point where it becomes economically viable for the firm to invest and Welland Valley was no exception.

“Our broadband group have worked for over a year to bring fast, reliable and affordable broadband to our parishes,” said Welland Valley Broadband Group leader Martin Griffin. "We are delighted with the outcome, as Gigaclear provides our residents with a long-term strategic partner, offering the fastest broadband in the UK."

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