East Sussex Full Fibre network builder, operator and ISP, Lightning Fibre, announces multi-million pound expansion into West Sussex and Kent and new, lower pricing for consumers.
East Sussex based AltNet, Lightning Fibre, founded in Eastbourne in 2018, has recently passed 60,000 premises and increased its investment from leading listed infrastructure and private equity investment manager Foresight Group, to facilitate further expansion.
Following a small pilot in Eastbourne, the firm secured roll out investment for Eastbourne and Hastings in Oct 2020, and further investment in March 2021 to extend to Hailsham and Heathfield. Further private funding means the network will now reach Haywards Heath and Tenterden, with more towns under review, creating even more gigabit-towns in the South of England.
The firm recently strengthened its Board, with the appointment of Amit Thakrar, portfolio director, at Foresight Group and Tim Passingham, chairman of Cambridge Management Consulting, who join fellow Board members, founder and CEO of Lightning Fibre, Ben Ferriman and Simon Bonini, non-executive director.
Ben Ferriman, commented, “This is a very exciting time for Lightning Fibre and highlights our rapid progress and success so far. We have not only built a network, we’ve built a brand. A brand that appeals to our local markets through a clear product and price differentiation as well as a genuine, evidence-based community-centric approach and exceptional customer care. We have thousands of happy customers in Eastbourne, and I am delighted that we have recently connected our first customers in Heathfield and Hailsham. We are ahead of schedule, and we’re delighted to now push into two new counties.”
Commenting recently on the announcement to extend the network to Haywards Heath, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Net Zero for Mid Sussex District Council, Councillor Stephen Hillier, said, “This private investment is great for our region and creates more local jobs. Haywards Heath residents and businesses can access a hyper fast Full Fibre broadband network. I welcome this news and I wish Lightning Fibre every success.”
The investment means a build to 140,000 homes and businesses is fully-funded. The expansion is also great news for the local job market; the company’s head count will now increase to c.200, which is great for the local economy.
Foresight Group portfolio director Amit Thakrar commented, “Progress in terms of network build, as well as uptake on the retail side of the business, has been extremely encouraging. All expectations have been exceeded and the positive reputation in the towns served by Lightning Fibre further supports the case for expansion. Studies have shown full fibre optic networks reduce greenhouse gas emissions* and promote wider access to employment and education. The opportunity to accelerate the network build is very exciting and we’re confident the Lightning Fibre team will continue to surpass all our expectations.”
With households under financial pressure from the rising cost of living, the company has also permanently reduced its 1Gbps price by 25% and its 100Mbps price to £24 per month, making it one of the lowest cost full fibre providers in the region as well as one of the most highly rated on Trustpilot. The company has also scrapped set up fees for most of its 24mth domestic packages and does not impose an annual inflationary price increase on its fixed term customers.
Unlike some other Altnets, Lightning Fibre does not rely solely on the Openreach Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA), which is often crowded or damaged, which means large swathes of the region cannot access Full Fibre. Lightning Fibre’s investment model means that the company can also lay its own, brand new infrastructure, enabling it to meet its pledge to reach almost every home and business in the towns it serves.
Ben Ferriman recently met with Damian Green, Member of Parliament for Ashford, to update him on Lightning Fibre’s plans for Tenterden. Green commented, “The Government committed at the last election to deliver nationwide gigabit-broadband. This private investment helps us meet that commitment. This announcement not only means Tenterden residents and businesses can access a hyper fast Full Fibre broadband network, it also creates more local jobs.”
As the network rolls out, people are invited to register their interest online at www.LightningFibre.co.uk, this also gives the company an idea of demand levels which informs the planning of their network build. Once an area is connected, customers simply switch online or call 01323 380260.
Mindful of the sensitivity of carrying out disruptive local street works, the company encourages anyone with questions, concerns or issues relating to the network build to contact them by phone or email firstname.lastname@example.org and they promise to deal with issues promptly.
Photos: Lightning Fibre Founder and CEO, Ben Ferriman, and Ashford MP Damian Green.
Damian Green is a British politician who served as First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office from June to December 2017 in the Second May government. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been Member of Parliament for Ashford since 1997.
*Source: ‘Copper switch-off European experience and practical considerations’ for FTTH Council Europe by WIK-Consult GmbH Ilsa Godlovitch Peter Kroon 30 November 2020.
Foresight Group was founded in 1984 and is a leading listed infrastructure and private equity investment manager. With along-established focus on ESG and sustainability-led strategies, it aims to provide attractive returns to its institutional and private investors from hard-to-access private markets. Foresight manages over 330 infrastructure assets with a focus on solar and onshore wind assets, bioenergy and waste, as well as renewable energy enabling projects, energy efficiency management solutions, social and core infrastructure projects and sustainable forestry assets. Its private equity team manages ten regionally focused investment funds across the UK and an SME impact fund supporting Irish SMEs. This team reviews over 2,500 business plans each year and currently supports more than 200 investments in SMEs. Foresight Capital Management manages four strategies across six investment vehicles with an AUM of over £1.6 billion.
Foresight operates from 12 offices across six countries in Europe and Australia with AUM of £12.2 billion**. Foresight Group Holdings Limited listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange in February 2021. https://www.fsg-investors.com/
**Based on FSG unaudited AUM as at 30 June 2022 and Infrastructure Capital's AUM as at 31 March 2022.