Communications infrastructure finance: catching up to the speed of connectivity

United KingdomScotland

Earlier this week, bidding began in the UK for a share of newly released spectrum to provide the backbone for the next generation of network and data connectivity, 5G services. With the usual suspects vying for a chunk of the 40MHz and 150MHz available spectrum to license, it is notable that a new competitor, Airspan Spectrum Holdings, is also in the running.

This follows the race to provide cutting-edge network provider services to increase broadband speed across the UK. Last month, Hyperoptic carried out a trial of a 10Gbps service at East Village using its existing Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network. Demand for speed is rising and telecoms companies are becoming aware of a gap in the market to gain first-mover advantage. It is therefore no surprise that the International Telecommunication Union confirmed in its Trends in Communication Reform 2016 study that capital expenditure on fibre infrastructure would likely surpass USD 144.2 billion from 2014 to the end of 2019.

Greater volumes of investment would contribute to the vision of a modern world built on the seamless assimilation of reliable technology into everyday lifestyles. The result is twofold:

  1. The Internet of Things (IoT): The symbiotic relationship of a 5G network supported by fibre-optic infrastructure could release the true potential for societies built around IoT. Singapore has already established itself as the benchmark smart city in Southeast Asia, utilising its faster network to track real-time cleanliness and congestion issues. As the World Economic Forum’s country best prepared for the new digital economy, reinforced by plans for a national fibre network offering consistent 1Gbps services, and the recent announcement of Singtel and Ericsson establishing a 5G Centre of Excellence, futuristic living in Singapore is becoming the present.
  2. Socio-economic benefits: Last month, the FTTH Council Europe released a study on the socio-economic impact of FTTH. Within Sweden, FTTH has allowed 400,000 households in Stockholm to be connected up to 1Gbps, enabling it to be an attractive region for digital start-ups to innovate and for the rollout of digital education, digital health, and home automation services. In Europe, FTTH infrastructure provides 88 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions per gigabit in comparison to other access networks. With such a plethora of benefits, it is clear as to why demand is high for both households and businesses – 94% of non-FTTH users would consider subscribing to FTTH if made available in their area, and 82% of FTTH customers are happier with their service compared to DSL, cable modem, and wireless access users.

At CMS we understand that as the market evolves, so does the financing structures that underpin its foundations. Given our knowledge of the regulatory framework and success to date in implementing a variety of hybrid-infra financings we are excited about the new opportunities we can see emerging and look forward to assisting our clients and industry contacts deliver them.

A new age for telecoms finance has arrived – don’t get left behind.