Strain on Providers as Rural Broadband Rollout Continues

Smaller providers are showing financial strain as the rollout of fibre continues in rural parts of the UK.

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Fibre network builders fight to survive in a highly competitive industry, and one business has now fallen victim to this amidst the race to provide faster broadband for the whole UK. 

Broadway Partners, a company launching in 2016, has had to call in administrators due to the huge costs and rising interests rates hit. Broadway’s intention has been to provide high-quality and affordable broadband to more remote areas of the UK, such as Wales and Scotland. It somewhat achieved this, connecting some thousands of premises in places such as Arran, Perth & Kinross, and Pembrokeshire. 

Broadway set an incredibly ambitious aim of connecting 250,000 homes and businesses by 2025, but it has been estimated that only 20% of this has been completed as of now. 

Despite being the only ‘victim’ of the current market in broadband, countless other players in fibre infrastructure are reported to be facing severe financial pressure, with many seeking new buyers or investment in the last year. An example of this is Trooli, a player of medium size. 

In an attempt to keep afloat, Broadway Partners have appointed Teneo Financial Advisory to be their administration. In regards to this, Benji Dymant, joint administrator at Teneo, has stated: ”Following significant investment in Ultrafast Full Fibre Broadband, the sector has been facing into a number of adverse macroeconomic issues, including raising interest rates and inflation, in a highly competitive environment.”

Despite these issues within the market, the rollout of broadband in rural areas hasn’t slowed down quite yet. Only recently did Airband, a Worcester-based company, announced their pledge to reach another 6,000 homes and businesses in rural Worcestershire by the end of 2023, and a further 15,000 by the summer of 2024. 

It’s not just Worcestershire that’s seeing huge increases in the broadband coverage, however. Freedom Fibre recently received a £24 million contract to provide fibre to rural Shropshire homes. The first homes and businesses are expected to benefit from this by February of 2024. Freedom Fibre estimate that 12,038 homes could benefit from broadband. 

With full fibre reaching almost half of the UK as of Ofcom’s spring 2023 report, the incentive to increase the nation’s broadband coverage is only continuing on. 

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