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Dunstone’s FibreNation project ‘planning to raise £1bn’ for wholesale FTTH

CharlesDunstone.jpg

UK fixed operator TalkTalk is trying to raise £1 billion to build a fibre network connecting up to three million homes, according to unconfirmed reports.

The reports said TalkTalk’s FibreNation subsidiary, set up in November 2018, will seek to raise £400 million in equity and £600 million in debt for the project to create a wholesale fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) carrier.

Paul Reynolds, the chairman of FibreNation, refused to comment to Capacity: “Yes, I saw that piece of speculation too,” he said. “I don’t know what was the source but it certainly wasn’t from me. As usual with speculation, I have no comment to make.”

Reynolds is a former CEO of BT Wholesale who helped create Openreach as BT’s last-mile subsidiary. He then took over Telecom New Zealand – now Spark – and created Chorus, its equivalent of Openreach, as a completely independent listed company.

The Telegraph in the UK reported that Charles Dunstone (pictured), the chairman of TalkTalk, will start the search for £1 billion funding “in the next few weeks”.

FibreNation started in 2018 with the aim of providing wholesale services to both TalkTalk and Sky. It is due to take over an existing fibre project in York and expand to three other Yorkshire towns, Harrogate, Ripon and Knaresborough, with the aim of expanding the total footprint to over 100,000 premises.

However an earlier funding project, with infrastructure investment specialist Infracapital, seem not to have progressed. Infracapital is an investor in a number of rival fibre projects, including Gigaclear, now headed by former Interoute boss Gareth Williams, and SSE Enterprise Telecoms, as well as Wight Fibre, on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England.

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