Upp Corporation Limited, with the backing of Mikhail Fridman’s LetterOne, today announced its plans to invest £1bn to deploy a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network to 1 million premises in eastern England by 2025. Specifically, Upp will focus on delivering fiber broadband to both consumers and local businesses in the UK.

Fiber Roll-Out – Upp

Upp intends to provide fiber connectivity to towns and coastal areas in the eastern England counties of Norfolk and Lincolnshire. Specifically, the company notes that these locations are currently underserved, with broadband speeds well-below the national average. Presently, contractors have already begun building for Upp in towns across Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

Build Cost

Upp and LetterOne’s £1bn business plan implies an average build cost across eastern England of £1,000 for each of the 1 million homes or businesses it passes. Additionally, Upp’s ~4.5-year timeline to reach 1 million premises indicates a build pace of ~220k fiber passings per year. For its fiber network build, Upp’s suppliers include Nokia, Linksys, Fujikura, and Salesforce.

In comparison, in May 2021, BT Group announced its plan to build fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP), through Openreach, to 25 million homes and businesses across the UK by December 2026. Notably, BT Group states that it has an “average build cost across the entire footprint of between £300 and £400” for each home or business it passes.

Deployment

Upp is deploying its own regional fiber backhaul networks in order to support the growing demand for high-capacity broadband. During the build phase, Upp will extensively use the ducts and poles of BT Group’s Openreach. Additionally, the company will access assets from other digital infrastructure owners to enable its fiber deployment.

Project Gigabit – The UK Government’s Fiber Program

By building fiber infrastructure, Upp and LetterOne are participating in the UK’s £5.0bn Project Gigabit program. Indeed, the company will help deliver on the UK Government’s target to provide broadband speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

Management Team – Upp

Upp’s management team draws from both the telecoms and technology industries with its personnel formerly part of BT Group, Orange, Ericsson, KCOM, and Gigaclear. Key management team members of Upp include:

  • Chairman: Robert Easton, a former Partner of Carlyle
  • Technology and Network Build: Peter Kamphuis, founder of Deutsche Glasfaser and Reggefiber
  • Branding and Marketing: Pippa Dunn former Chief Marketing Officer of EE and Orange UK

Funding Sources – LetterOne Backs Upp

LetterOne, the investment arm of Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, as well as Upp’s management team and its Board of Directors have already committed the £300m of equity needed to fund Upp’s business plan. Indeed, Upp and LetterOne will source the remaining £700m of capital through debt funding.

Currently, LetterOne’s other telecommunications investments include a 48% stake in VEON and a 20% stake in Turkcell.

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