Brsk brings in full-fibre broadband backing as CityFibre expands Reading net

Alternative network provider Brsk has announced another milestone in its mission to bring better broadband to underserved areas of the UK by securing an additional £156m debt investment, while leading provider CityFibre has revealed that it has now laid 340km of full-fibre internet beneath the streets of Reading as part of its £58m plan to future-proof the town’s digital connectivity.

Brsk was founded by Giorgio Iovino and Ian Kock in 2020, both founding members of Vumatel, which is now the largest fibre network in South Africa. Brsk has expanded its network from humble beginnings in West Yorkshire in 2021, with the network reaching into three more key urban regions – namely Manchester, the West Midlands and Lancashire – with approximately 250,000 ready for service (RFS) homes and 14,000 customer connections.

In a huge boost to its prospects, the funding – managed by Ares Management Corporation’s Infrastructure Debt strategy – sees its total investment upsized from an initial £103m commitment to now total £259m. The financing will support Brsk’s growth and enable its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband network to reach a million homes by 2026.

Brsk said that, together with support from equity partner Advencap, it can muster a team with a proven track record in the deployment of fibre optic infrastructure and in supporting the UK’s “urgent need to progress from outdated copper-based broadband”.

Earlier in August 2023, Brsk selected leading fibre connectivity provider Neos Networks to offer national backhaul services as it prepared to reach more than a million UK homes.

“With support from Ares, our network has grown almost fivefold. We couldn’t be happier working with like-minded financing partners to make it possible,” said Iovino. “Securing this funding is a significant milestone in clearing the runway for us to take full-fibre broadband to one million homes.”

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James Fox, managing director, infrastructure debt at Ares, added: “We are delighted by the opportunity to continue to transact with Brsk and support them on their next phase of growth. We have been pleased with the delivery of their plan since our initial investment and look forward to working with Giorgio and the team as they look to realise their goal of delivering fibre broadband to one million homes.”

Meanwhile, almost 200 miles south of Brsk’s catchment area, CityFibre said its new network means it could lay enough full-fibre to lap local football club Reading FC’s stadium pitch nearly 1,000 times.

The roll-out is being completed by CityFibre’s build partner OCU Services, which currently has teams working in the Woodley, Sandford and University of Reading areas. Large sections of the town have also been completed, including North, West and South Reading.

CityFibre’s goal is to provide residents with a competitive choice of providers. In Reading, customers can sign up to UK launch partner Vodafone on selected Vodafone Pro Broadband plans, as well as TalkTalk, Giganet and Zen, with other providers also available.

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