Upp, previously FibreMe, has today announced that it will invest £1 billion to deploy gigabit-capable fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) to one million premises in Eastern England by 2025
New ISPs pop up throughout the UK all the time, but rarely with investment plans of the same scale as newcomer Upp, which plans to invest £1 billion in its FTTP network over the next four years.
Backed by investment firm LetterOne, which also own Holland & Barrett, the new fibre operator said it is aiming to pass 1 million premises in eastern England by 2025.
The exact locations for the company’s initial rollout have yet to be revealed but will be centred in underserved market towns and coastal areas in Norfolk and Lincolnshire. Work is already underway in some locations, with Upp making use of Openreach’s ducts and poles, as well as those from other infrastructure owners.
Upp has already engaged various major suppliers to help with their rollout, including Nokia, Linksys, Fujikura and Salesforce.com.
“I am thrilled to lead such a talented, dedicated and experienced team. We are excited to partner with an investor who not only matched our passion and ambition for the opportunity but is committed to developing the UK’s digital infrastructure,” said Upp’s CEO Drew Ritchie. “I’m delighted to say that LetterOne has more than met these criteria, backing the business with substantial funding that allows us to concentrate on delivering next level broadband to the communities that need it most.”
According to Upp, their investment will also result in 600 new jobs being created.
The last few years have seen numerous fibre altnets rise to prominence in the UK. CityFibre has scaled up its rollout plans considerably, hoping to position itself as the third major fibre player alongside BT and Virgin Media.
Meanwhile, the major operators, BT and Virgin Media, which has now merged with O2, are continuing to accelerate their own rollout and upgrade plans, with both suggesting that they are open to new investment as they tackle the enormous task of creating a gigabit Britain.
But despite this increasingly competitive environment, there is clearly still a healthy appetite for investment in new fibre players. The increased focus on connectivity and infrastructure throughout the coronavirus pandemic, combined with favourable regulatory policies from Ofcom and major government investment schemes, have created significant opportunities for new entrants.
Market consolidation will surely follow eventually, as it always does, but for now the UK fibre market will have to contend with the shock of a new, and potentially major, player.
How will new player Upp fare in the highly competitive UK fibre market? Find out from the experts at this year’s live Connected Britain event