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Gresham House commits £50m to expand high speed internet in Cornwall
Investment in Wildanet - 22 December 2020
Investment in Wildanet - 22 December 2020
We are pleased to announce that we have made an investment into Wildanet, Cornwall’s leading alternative broadband network provider, through our British Strategic Investment Fund strategy (BSIF).
The commitment of £50m will enable Wildanet to push forward with their ambitious plan to bring much faster and more reliable broadband connectivity to even the most rural homes and businesses of Cornwall.
Wildanet, which was established in 2017, has developed a fixed wireless network which already passes 30% of Cornwall’s properties.
Our investment will enable Wildanet to upgrade and expand this gigabit-capable network to continue to target the underserved homes and businesses of Cornwall through a combination of a new full fibre network and expansion of its fixed wireless network.
The fibre network, expected to be rolled out over the next three years, will combine to reach 60% of Cornwall’s properties.
This complementary blend of fibre and fixed wireless will allow Wildanet to overcome the traditional hurdles to deploying gigabit-capable connectivity to the most rural Cornish communities.
The expansion of Wildanet’s network will create up to 98 new Cornish jobs and enable homes and businesses across the county to enjoy the benefits of a good value, fast, reliable internet connection.
The market opportunity for Wildanet is significant; demand for high speed, low latency internet is growing exponentially, yet across a large proportion of Cornwall broadband provision is currently very poor.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated this growth in demand and shown that digital connectivity is critically important for the UK, with more people than ever working and studying from home.
The investment in Wildanet and their plans to expand their network within the county has received support from Sheryll Murray, Member of Parliament for South East Cornwall, who said of the initiative:
“I’m delighted that Wildanet has secured this investment which will enable them to accelerate the development of their network across Cornwall bringing the benefits of gigabit-capable connectivity to more homes and businesses in the county. Access to fast, reliable broadband will support the further development of Cornwall’s economy and create jobs.”
Peter Bachmann, Fund Manager at Gresham House said:
“This year, unlike any other, has brought home the importance of connectivity to the economic, social and health wellbeing of us all. Wildanet’s focus on digital inclusion for all of Cornwall, not just the easy to reach homes and businesses, allows us to invest to make a meaningful economic and social impact in line with BSIF’s strategy and objectives of backing innovative new Sustainable Infrastructure projects.
“Our investment will help Wildanet to provide a great network for Cornwall, using the best available technology to create a truly gigabit-capable network that is vastly superior to and materially more energy efficient than copper-based broadband. The investment will also help address the targets for Cornwall set out in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals by providing communications technology fit for modern society. This is exactly the type of strategically important sustainable project that we are looking to facilitate, while generating attractive returns for investors.”
Ian Calvert, Wildanet’s CEO commented
“I’m delighted for Cornwall and for Wildanet that we have been able to secure this investment from Gresham House. It will enable us to expand our network across more of the county, deploying fibre whilst expanding our fixed wireless network and ultimately create new jobs in Cornwall.
“A fast, reliable internet connection means that many businesses and workers can operate from locations away from traditional business hubs which will drive economic growth in Cornwall. With households forecast to double the number of internet-connected devices in the next few years it’s clear that having a fast and reliable internet connection has become increasingly important. Our network also helps us to support initiatives to deal with digital exclusion which is a serious issue for Cornwall.”
Our investment is supported by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF) which is operated by appointed fund manager, The FSE Group, who initially invested in Wildanet in 2018.
Ralph Singleton, Head of Funds Cornwall at The FSE Group adds:
“This is one of the largest investments into Cornwall in recent years and demonstrates the work and the opportunities that our funding can go on to create. We look forward to working with Gresham House to help Wildanet deliver their expansion plans and are delighted to continue supporting the company through the next stage of their development.”
This initial commitment represents the start of a substantially larger gigabit-capable network expansion in Cornwall and beyond.
We are working closely with the Company to bring together a first-class operating team, supported by a Board with deep industry knowledge, to support Wildanet through the next stage of their growth.
Wildanet is a Cornish internet service provider which will be using market leading fibre to the premise and fixed wireless technology to provide Cornish businesses and homes with fast reliable broadband connectivity.
The business is headquartered in Liskeard, employs 26 and is forecasting it will create up to 32 new full-time jobs directly and 66 job indirectly over the next twelve months.