Care home funder consolidates four UK fibre providers
The owner of four of the UK’s smaller fibre operators are merging their operations in the face of rising competition.
Fern Trading is consolidating its Jurassic Fibre, Swish Fibre, Giganet and AllPoints Fibre businesses into a single fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) entity.
Fern Trading says it is the UK’s largest producer of solar energy, and it also owns private hospitals and retirement villages as well as funding care homes and other operations.
Jarlath Finnegan (pictured), CEO of Giganet, will lead the combined group. He said: “Together, we will become even stronger through exceptional customer service, combined with a relentless focus on technology and product.”
The company said the businesses will combine their regional operations and create a national wholesale network during the course of 2023. No details are yet available of the projected wholesale network.
A more sceptical point of view came from telecoms analyst Paolo Pescatore of PP Foresight. “There are too many companies chasing too [little money]. Consolidation is inevitable. This will be a big theme in the UK for the year ahead as other altnets jostle for position,” he said.
John Browett, chairman of Fern Trading’s fibre division, said: “We expect to see continued consolidation within the industry, and by combining these successful businesses now, we will be in a fantastic position to take advantage of those market opportunities as they unfold.”
Smaller fibre operators such as Fern’s Giganet and Jurassic Fibre are competing with better funded giants such as BT-owned Openreach, which is a wholesale operator working with a number of fibre retailers, and CityFibre, which last year raised £4.9 billion in debt to build out FTTH in a large number of UK towns and cities. CityFibre’s shareholders include Goldman Sachs.
CityFibre said last year it plans to connect eight million homes in the UK to fibre. Openreach has a similar target.
Pescatore said: “The current macro-economic environment is extremely unfavourable forcing many providers to rethink their commercial models and rollout plans.”
Nevertheless, Giganet’s Finnegan said: “We’re looking forward to expanding our presence across the country and providing even more customers with access to full fibre connectivity.”
Browett said: “In the coming years, the UK fibre market is going to experience exponential change, driven by the massive need to ensure homes and businesses in every part of the UK have access to a fast and fairly priced internet service.”