TalkTalk 'seeks' £1bn funding for fibre venture

(Image credit: TalkTalk)

TalkTalk will reportedly seek £1 billion from investors in order to fund plans to build a fibre to the premise (FTTP) network serving as many as three million homes and businesses in urban areas.

The company has created a new entity called FibreNation to build and manage the network, which it is hoped will offer Internet Service Providers (ISPs) a wholesale alternative to BT’s Openreach.

According to The Telegraph, TalkTalk Chairman and founder Sir Charles Dunstone will start the funding search in the next few weeks. The plan is to raise £400 million in equity and £600 million in debt.

TalkTalk fibre

TalkTalk has long been critical of Openreach’s technology strategy and close relationship with parent BT, arguing that the decision to invest in Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) was motivated by a desire to sweat BT’s copper assets to the detriment of the country and Openreach’s wholesale partners.

A joint-venture between TalkTalk and Sky to build a trial FTTP network in York was established in 2014 and has been used to gain network deployment knowledge and assess customer demand.

The trial has deemed to be a success and earlier this year TalkTalk announced plans to expand coverage to more than three million homes and premises. TalkTalk has since taken over the joint-venture, but Sky will be one of the first wholesale customers for the new, enlarged network.

The hope is that FibreNation will deliver superior broadband services for TalkTalk and Sky’s customers and offer a wholesale alternative to Openreach for other broadband providers. Mobile operators will also have a new option for backhaul services.

In a separate development, TalkTalk has been linked with the possible acquisition of SSE Telecom’s consumer business. Having already sold its enterprise unit to a private equity, SSE is eager to exit the market to focus on its core energy business.

TalkTalk has been approached for comment.