Amber Infrastructure Group (‘Amber’) has announced that Airband Community Internet Limited (‘Airband’) an investment through the Amber-managed National Digital Infrastructure Fund (‘NDIF’) and alongside abrdn, has secured a £100 million debt facility. The debt financing will help accelerate Airband’s rollout programme to provide full fibre broadband to 600,000 premises by 2025 with over 10,000km of fibre deployed across hundreds of rural communities, helping to bridge the rural-urban divide.
Airband is a provider of rural connectivity services across the West of England, historically through Fixed Wireless Access (‘FWA‘). Since 2018, the business has moved towards providing Fibre to the Premises (‘FTTP‘), driven by UK Government led initiatives, including subsidies to promote significant investment in fibre infrastructure in rural areas. The business has a network footprint covering thousands of homes across the West of England.
Airband has been a long-standing partner of both national and local government organisations and has grown rapidly to become the largest infrastructure provider in the rural areas it serves and is currently able to support 100,000 premises. Increasing demand, changes in regulation and the availability of the Government subsidies have created a unique opportunity for Airband to roll out ultrafast internet, using future-proof gigabit capable FTTP technology. It does this by identifying poorly served areas and working with communities, local councils and the Government to install the necessary infrastructure to deliver full fibre connections.
Redmond Peel, Airband’s founder, said: “We created Airband in 2009 to supply rural areas with the high-quality internet they deserve. The pandemic has increasingly highlighted the deficit some communities in the UK face when it comes to services that those living in urban areas take for granted. Access to reliable and fast broadband that is fit for modern day lives – from home education and online grocery shopping during the lockdown through to the digitisation of many services, such as banking and streaming entertainment – can no longer be considered a luxury, but rather a basic utility. As well as bringing full fibre to communities, we ensure it is available to those in the area at an affordable rate. We invest in the communities we serve, from ongoing maintenance of the network through to supporting the local economy by setting up offices in key districts and generating jobs in the local area.”
Ben Terry, Senior Investment Director, Amber Infrastructure Group, said: “Amber is delighted that Airband have secured this facility which will help to further accelerate the full fibre enablement of rural parts of the UK. Our confidence in the Airband team has been further strengthened via the highly positive responses that the team have received from the financial markets during this process. One of the key objectives for NDIF is to support and enable and support UK based altnets in achieving the levels of operational maturity to allow them to secure further external capital and challenge the incumbent operators’ market position. We believe that securing this facility has achieved this objective and further demonstrates the continued success of both NDIF, and Airband.”
The £100m debt package has been secured from HSBC, Lloyds, Nord LB and Sabadell.
For further information:
Amber Infrastructure Limited
Erica Sibree/Amy Edwards
+44 (0)20 7939 0558/0587
About Amber infrastructure Group
Amber Infrastructure (‘Amber’) is a specialist international investment manager, focused on investment origination, asset management and fund management. Amber’s core business focuses on sourcing, developing, advising, investing in and managing infrastructure assets across the public, transport, energy, digital and demographic infrastructure sectors that support the lives of people, homes and businesses internationally.
Amber is headquartered in London with offices in Europe, North America and Australia and employs over 150 infrastructure professionals.
Founded in 2009, Airband is a rural broadband specialist with ultrafast fibre to the premises (FTTP) networks and superfast wireless networks spanning 9 counties in the UK - including the Midlands, Shropshire, Cheshire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Wales and Devon and Somerset. Airband’s networks have been created via a blend of government-funded and demand-led projects. It won awards for its work creating a superfast wireless network in the national parks of Dartmoor and Exmoor and is recognised as a leader in rural broadband.