The National Digital Infrastructure Fund (NDIF), a privately run fund backed by £400m of money from the government’s Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, has awarded a £22m tranche of funding to ultrafast network builder Nextgenaccess (NGA) to improve connectivity to over 4,000 small businesses in and around Newport, South Wales.
NGA already runs an independent UK network with over 100 points-of-presence (PoPs), which it says is used primarily to enable businesses in areas underserved by the likes of Openreach to access wholesale fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband.
The cash injection will be used in part to build a new 80km fibre backhaul link connecting Bristol to Newport, through local datacentre owner Next Generation Data (NGD), which operates a hyperscale facility in Newport. The link will include a 4km section running directly over the Severn suspension bridge.
“NDIF’s investment will allow us to accelerate scale deployment of our independent ultrafast network across the UK, particularly to underserved areas where we can provide small businesses with unique access to truly next-generation full-fibre broadband at a proven lower cost than traditional telecoms operators,” said NGA MD Mark Weller.
At the same time, NDIF’s investment will secure it a minority shareholding in NGA, enabling it to expand with over 1,000km of new high-capacity fibre routes across the UK by 2021.
Khalid Naqib, senior investment director at Amber Infrastructure, which backs the NDIF fund, said: “Widescale FTTP and 5G rollout will make increasing demands on the capacity of the UK’s existing network infrastructure. Deploying wholesale access fibre quickly and effectively is key to bringing forward the next generation of connectivity for homes and businesses.
“With the backing of NDIF as a long-term, responsible partner, NGA will help to future-proof the UK’s fibre infrastructure and accelerate the ambitious transition to a gigabit future.”
NGD commercial director Simon Bearne added: “We are excited to be working with NGA on this project to bring ultrafast connectivity to thousands of underserved businesses in South Wales, and through NGD’s existing direct connections to cloud infrastructure, enable high-speed access to services such as Microsoft Azure. At the same time, it allows NGD customers to enjoy the benefits of NGA’s nationwide fibre network.”
NDIF has already invested in a number of broadband projects, including a local project in London run by Community Fibre, targeting 100,000 residential properties with gigabit-capable broadband services, and Airband Community Internet, a rural provider addressing homes in Devon, Shropshire and Wales, with fixed-wireless access (FWA) delivery technology.