October 2, 2023
UK fibre joint venture Nexfibre has announced that interim chief exec Bernardo Quinn is heading out the door.
Quinn has spent the largest period of his career at Telefónica, which together with Liberty Global owns 50% of Nexfibre. The company is building out a wholesale fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network with Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) – Telefónica and Liberty’s UK telco JV – as its anchor tenant. The other half of Nexfibre is controlled by French private equity firm InfraVia Capital.
Quinn took on the interim CEO role at the beginning of this year, but it seems that Nextfibre is ready to bring in someone permanent. Someone fresh, someone who doesn’t have ties to any of its parents.
The person in question is Rajiv Datta, who until recently served as COO of Colt. Before that, he was chief technology officer, IP and data network, at India’s Jio. Earlier on in his career, Datta spent 13 years and held multiple C-level roles at wholesale and enterprise networking provider Abovenet, right up until its acquisition by Zayo Group in 2012.
Nexfibre said Datta’s extensive experience with rolling out and operating fixed networks makes him the ideal candidate for its next CEO.
“I look forward to working with the team, our shareholders and our partners to execute on our strategy of delivering high-quality broadband capability that provides long-term, sustainable competition, and has a lasting impact on communities across the UK,” said Datta, in a statement.
“The board and I are delighted that Rajiv is joining the Nexfibre team, and we look forward to working with him and our partners at Virgin Media O2 to create a national scale challenger, boosting wholesale competition, driving consumer choice and providing significant value to the UK economy,” added Nexfibre chairman Andrea Salvato.
As for Quinn, he will stay on as an advisor until the end of the year.
“We would like to thank Bernardo Quinn for his commitment and contribution. He has been instrumental in creating the Nexfibre organisation, and setting the impressive pace of the programme to date,” Salvato said.
The new appointment was made on the same day that Nexfibre notched up a noteworthy network achievement.
Its fibre rollout has now passed 500,000 premises. Not bad, considering the company was only formed last summer. It plans to reach 5 million by 2026, by which time it will have burned through the better part of £4.5 billion. Depending on how it goes, it has an option to extend its footprint by a further 2 million premises.
In terms of technology, it has opted for XGS-PON, which supports symmetric speeds of up to 10 Gbps. Capability-wise it’s on the same level as rival wholesaler CityFibre, which covers 3 million premises and has begun offering XGS-PON in some areas. VMO2, which is upgrading its cable network to fibre, has also launched XGS-PON independently of Nexfibre.
Between them, Nexfibre, CityFibre and VMO2 might just give Openreach something to think about.
While the incumbent has the biggest wholesale network footprint – and an ambitious FTTP deployment target of 25 million premises by the end of 2026 – it has yet to give any firm indication of when it will commercially launch XGS-PON.
As altnets plough on with their deployments, Openreach – despite its scale relative to the others – is still at risk of looking like a laggard.
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