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    Digitalbridge fires up fibre to the home race with £295m rocket behind Netomnia

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    Financiers bet on fibre runners in the last mile FTTH stakes

    The UK’s fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network builder stakes just upped the pace dramatically as one of the dark horses Netomnia and its ISP partner YouFibre raised £295 million in a funding round led by DigitalBridge Investment Management, part of the DigitalBridge Group. Stable owners Soho Square Capital and Advencap also took part in the funding round, just five months after Netomnia and YouFibre raised £123 million in November 2021. 

    Netomnia has been building fibre access networks in multiple towns and cities across the south of England, in cathedral and market towns such as Canterbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Guildford and Maidstone. Its fibre terminates at 130,000 premises and it aims to accelerate the rate of installation quite sharply reach 1 million premises by 2023. 

    As is happening in Germany, financial institutions are seeing clear gain on investing in fibre and the City of London has funded many fibre broadband projects. According to Telecom TV, there are dozens of companies racing to get their fibre connections to Britain’s 30 million premises first. As each adopts its own network rollout technique a variety of business models are backing these efforts, according to analyst Ray le Maistre

    As with the growth of cable TV, which was created by dozens of local TV channels, each with its own proprietary IT systems, there could be problems when consolidation happens. Virgin Media O2, which grew by acquisition at the expense of integration, has always struggled to connect its various silos and departments together. 

    When small customer-service-driven players emerge to challenge the arrogance of the ‘talk to the call centre’ brands, consolidation is inevitable, if only to stop the small companies showing up the encumbents. DigitalBridge the funder of Netomnia, has been investing in all kinds of infrastructure. In March it announced it is to buy Belgian telco Telenet’s towers for €745 million.