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Gigaclear Secures £420M Investment: Expanding Rural Broadband and Boosting UK Altnet Sector

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UK alternative network provider Gigaclear has secured a significant investment of £420 million from infrastructure-focused fund manager Equitix, enabling the company to expand its coverage target. Gigaclear’s original plan was to reach 500,000 premises by the end of this year, but the new influx of capital will now allow the company to connect more than one million premises by 2027. The exact details of the deal were not disclosed, but it was reported that Gigaclear’s parent company, Infracapital, would remain its majority shareholder.

Gigaclear CEO Gareth Williams expressed his delight at the partnership, stating, “We are delighted Equitix has chosen to invest with us as we continue to expand our network to underserved rural towns and villages that would otherwise be left behind. Equitix recognises, as we do, that focusing on connecting poorly-served rural communities clearly differentiates us from other providers of fibre to the home.”

Williams also acknowledged that the investment would enable Gigaclear to build out its network to over one million additional homes and businesses, bringing ultrafast full fibre broadband speeds to more rural communities in England.

This announcement comes as a positive development amidst recent negativity in the UK alternative network (altnet) sector. Rising prices and interest rates have put pressure on some of the country’s more debt-laden alternative fibre providers to cut costs, with CityFibre raising nearly £5 billion of debt in June 2022 to fund its fibre rollout and Oxford-based altnet Zzoomm raising £100 million of debt in October 2021.

Equitix CEO Hugh Crossley echoed Williams’ sentiments on the partnership, stating, “We are proud to partner with Infracapital and the Gigaclear team in delivering reliable, affordable, full fibre broadband to rural areas of the UK…our investment here is a positive step towards generating connectivity for all.” Andy Matthews, head of greenfield at Infracapital, also noted the investment’s potential to drive economic growth and improve access to essential services in rural areas.

The £420 million investment in Gigaclear serves as a significant vote of confidence in the UK altnet sector, demonstrating that there are still opportunities for growth and positive developments, even amidst challenging market conditions.

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