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£16m investment for rural broadband specialist Airband…

Submitted by on August 24, 2018 – 6:30 am |

Redmond PeelAirband, a leading provider of innovative superfast broadband solutions for rural areas, last week announced a £16m investment from the National Digital Infrastructure Fund (“NDIF”) to help connect more rural homes and businesses with high-speed broadband.

The investment will enable Airband to expand its network to an additional 50,000 business and residential premises in England and Wales by 2021. It will also be used to drive further technology investment, as the firm prepares to roll out RuralOptic, its pioneering fibre-to-the-premises broadband solution.   

This solution will be supported by Airband’s large existing mast network, which currently offers ultrafast connectivity to over 20,000 premises, including private homes, local authorities, SMEs, charities and emergency services, in Worcestershire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Powys, North and South Wales, Devon, Somerset and Shropshire.

The Worcester-based internet service provider has an established track record through Broadband Delivery UK’s (“BDUK”) Superfast Rural Broadband programme of deploying ultrafast connectivity in under-served and harder to reach places of the country where existing commercial providers continue to leave homes and businesses isolated from quality and reliable broadband. To date, Airband has secured approximately £25m of contractual BDUK subsidies to support its network deployment.

Redmond Peel, managing director, Airband, said:

“Providing better infrastructure and connectivity to rural areas of the UK is at the heart of the government’s plan for growth – and is crucial in the post-Brexit economy. This £16m investment means that we are able to play a key role in creating this better infrastructure – providing more robust rural broadband and faster options for people in hard-to-reach areas, and helping to smash the UK’s so-called ‘digital divide’.

Airband is currently rolling out its superfast network across north Wales, Devon and Shropshire.

Airband’s Shropshire and Devon deployments are part of the UK Government’s superfast broadband rollout. The £11.2m Shropshire contract and £8m Devon contracts will deliver superfast connectivity to 30,000 premises by 2020.

In June this year, Airband completed an ambitious three-year project to deliver superfast broadband access to 5,800 premises in the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, where it used fixed wireless technology to overcome the challenging terrain and protected status of National Parks and AONBs.

Khalid Naqib, senior investment director, Amber Infrastructure, said:

“In structuring a flexible loan facility to fund fibre and wireless network expansion, NDIF is helping overcome the funding gap to rolling out cheaper, faster digital connectivity and in doing so, commercialising a real alternative to rival existing broadband infrastructure. Following our investment into Airband, NDIF is building a high-quality portfolio of digital infrastructure assets that have proven, long-term return characteristics supported by favourable policy conditions.”

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