£30m deal to expand world class digital connectivity

Tens of thousands more homes and businesses in East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire will gain access to high-speed fibre broadband thanks to a £30m funding package secured by broadband provider KCOM.

The two-year funding facility, provided by Lloyds Bank, will support the £280m turnover telecoms business to extend its full fibre network in the region to towns including Driffield and Market Weighton.

It will support the Government’s target of all UK households having access to gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.

KCOM is the incumbent broadband provider for Hull and the wider East Riding area. Its network resulted in the city becoming the UK’s first full-fibre city in 2019.

The latest agreement forms part of KCOM’s renewed £100m investment programme to increase regional fibre accessibility, following its acquisition by funds managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Assets last year.

It includes £18m of funding from Lloyds Bank’s clean growth finance initiative (CGFI), taking account of the much lower electricity usage of fibre when compared to legacy copper lines.

The CGFI provides discounted lending to help businesses invest in reducing their environmental impact as well as boosting productivity.

KCOM chief executive officer, Dale Raneberg, said: “Our sustained investment in Hull since 2012 has seen it become the UK’s leading city for digital connectivity and places it among the highest-ranking cities in the world for broadband speed.

“The positive economic impact of this investment couldn’t be clearer, with the latest figures indicating that Hull has benefited by almost £500m as a result.

“Our focus has always been to support growth and innovation through world-leading connectivity, which remains the case as we embark on our next phase of network expansion.

“With much of the UK now working or learning from home, it’s more important than ever that families and businesses have access to the fastest broadband speeds available to aid the collective economic recovery.”

Annabel Finlay, head of telecoms, media and technology at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Hot on the heels of helping Hull become the UK’s first full-fibre city, this £30m package will help KCOM reach homes and businesses quickly.

“While KCOM has highlighted the benefits of investment in Yorkshire’s digital economy, the wider UK fibre broadband network is currently behind the curve internationally, with just 14% of UK households able to access full fibre.

“The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the challenges posed by poor connectivity in certain areas of the UK, with slow or unreliable internet services the nemesis of many a home worker or home schooler.

“With the issue placed in stark relief, the impact of the pandemic will undoubtedly accelerate the push towards a more connected UK.

“As a leading bank in financing digital infrastructure and fibre connectivity we will continue to work closely with infrastructure providers to support the swift roll out of new and upgraded networks.”