UK fibre network Freedom Fibre has secured £100 million of scale-up funding as it looks to roll-out high-speed broadband to over two million premises in the North West.
The Manchester-based startup was founded by telecoms network entrepreneur Neil McArthur, who pioneered broadband and fibre networks in the UK including rolling out TalkTalk’s nationwide footprint.
Equitix, a leading global investor, developer, and long-term fund manager of core infrastructure assets, has made an initial £84m funding commitment into Freedom Fibre.
The cash will accelerate the roll-out of FTTP by Freedom Fibre, which is predominantly through the installation of fibre across BT’s existing infrastructure.
Santander Bank has also signed a £16m debt facility with Freedom Fibre, which takes the total funding commitment to £100m.
Freedom Fibre is already offering ultra-fast broadband to almost 20,000 homes across parts of Cheshire and Greater Manchester with minimal disruption to residents through its extensive use of BT ducts and poles.
The company is on track to reach 70,000 premises by the end of this year and expects to boost customer penetration through its wholesale agreement with TalkTalk to use its fibre optic connections.
Freedom Fibre will be seeking to add other broadband service providers over time as it scales.
The company’s ultimate business plan is to reach more than two million premises in its chosen locations.
Hugh Crossley, Chief Executive Officer for Equitix, said “We are looking forward to investing in and developing Freedom Fibre’s network roll-out. We believe Freedom Fibre is a strong business, operating in an essential infrastructure sector that has a critical role in providing connectivity for both the people and the economy of the North West.
“This sizeable investment further enhances Equitix’s network infrastructure that distribute essential utilities to over 6.3 million customers across the UK and Europe. Freedom Fibre’s network roll-out will continue our strategic aims to provide local communities with affordable, high quality essential infrastructure.”
Darren Woods, Freedom Fibre CFO, said: “We are delighted to have secured this investment from Equitix which will help to materially accelerate Freedom Fibre’s rapid operational progress.”
Neil McArthur, CEO, said: “Freedom Fibre firmly believes Full Fibre should be a right, accessible to all, and not a privilege. This new funding is enabling us to support our long-term ambition to take fibre off the beaten track to semi-urban areas, providing fast, reliable connectivity with the best possible customer experience. We are excited to be driving forward our strategy to create an affordable, optical fibre network which will last for generations.”
Freedom Fibre was advised by Oakley Advisory Limited and by Addleshaw Goddard LLP, along with PWC Debt advisory. Equitix was advised by Cameron Barney and by Shoosmiths LLP.