February 14, 2022
InfraRed Capital Partners has ploughed £125 million into Complete Technology Group, an investment that will help fund the rollout of fibre to three quarters of a million UK homes.
Well, sort of.
Complete Technology Group (CTG) is a UK fibre builder that styles itself as the bridge between property owners and telecoms providers. Essentially, its role is to install fibre into multi-occupancy buildings, new builds, social housing and so forth, which can then be hooked up to a wider network by an ISP. It also provides advisory and planning services, its core mission being to improve safety standards in fibre installation, particularly with regard to fire risk.
CTG and InfraRed said they will work together to deliver fibre to over 700,000 underserved UK homes, with the fund manager taking a majority – but unquantified – stake in CTG in return for its £125 million investment. That funding will also help CTG boost its workforce by around 100 over the next few years, incidentally, which is a fair few new hires for a company that currently sits in the 11-50 staff bracket. Clearly the firm, and its new financial backer, have some confidence in the success of its business model.
While its not wholly accurate to say CTG is rolling out fibre to those hundreds of thousands of homes, its model should help actual network builders to get into homes, which has to be a good thing for the development of full fibre in the UK. As we have frequently noted, the UK is still playing catch-up with many other European markets on full fibre, but extensive efforts from the incumbent and an ever-increasing patchwork of fibre builders means the market is growing.
CTG’s approach is to install multiple fibres into a residential building at once and lease access to those lines to ISP customers. The company is quite keen to highlight how this method improves safety and reduces materials and carbon footprint compared to traditional ways of bringing fibre into multi-dwelling buildings, one ISP at a time. Presumably it also reduces costs too – over time, at least, if not immediately – although CTG did not share further details of how the financials stack up.
“Broadband providers will be able to access homes more easily, reduce their risk, and up-scale their operations, while residents will get a greater choice of provider and less disruption. It is a win-win-win all round,” said CTG chief executive Eddie Minshull. The third ‘win’ in that equation is landlords: CTG aims to help them improve connectivity, safety standards and accountability in their buildings.
On the safety aspect, it’s worth noting that CTG is a new company, having been set up as recently as mid-2020. That’s three years after the Grenfell Tower fire that triggered a raft of new regulation and legislation, and significantly changed the concept of accountability.
All in all, it seems like a pretty good model. And obviously InfraRed agrees. This is not the usual case of an investment firm getting in on the action where there are sizeable fibre network assets to monetise, but there are clearly good prospects for return on investment here. It will be interesting to see whether CTG shares connection figures in the coming years.
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