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Upp to invest £1bn in fibre broadband for East of England

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The plan is to bring FTTx to 1 million premises by 2025 and create 600 permanent new jobs.

Investment continues to pour into the UK's fibre infrastructure, providing more competition for the incumbent BT which got off to a very sluggish start with full-fibre and is now going all out to catch up.

The funding for the Upp build is already fully committed by LetterOne, an international investment business whose UK interests include the health food chain Holland & Barrett: BT is also looking for an investor to share the cost of its fibre build out.

LetterOne is controlled by the Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman and chaired by Lord Davies of Abersoch, the former CEO of Standard Chartered and former UK Minister for Trade, Investment and Small Business and Infrastructure.

Levelling up…

To borrow from the UK's ruling Tory party’s language, Upp wants to “level up market towns and coastal areas across Norfolk and Lincolnshire (pciture shows the rural town of Epworth) that are currently underserved”. It will deploy multi-gigabit fibre, supported by global suppliers including Nokia, Linksys, Fujikura and Salesforce.com.

Upp says its supply chain partners have been selected based on their commitment to social, environmental and sustainability priorities. It has a ‘buy local’ principle that Upp claims is already helping regional businesses to invest and grow.

Having secured the necessary regulatory approvals, Upp is deploying its own regional fibre backhaul networks. Contractors are already building in towns across Norfolk and Lincolnshire – two large, mostly rural counties that are sparsely populated.

During the build phase, Upp will make extensive use of  Openreach’s ducts and poles as well as accessing assets from other infrastructure owners to accelerate deployment and minimise traffic disruption.

Upp is also working with local in the area to create a local academy to develop digital skills.

Lord Davies of Abersoch, Chairman of LetterOne said, “We are excited to partner with the Upp team to bring next level broadband to underserved regions of the UK.

“Every region of the UK has the potential to create breakthrough innovators, but no region can do this unless it is connected. We hope our substantial investment in connectivity will set Eastern England up to build back better for generations to come”.

Lot of excitement

Drew Ritchie, Upp’s CEO, added, “We are excited to partner…an investor who matches our passion and ambition for the opportunity and shares our commitment to developing the UK’s digital infrastructure.

I’m delighted to say that LetterOne has more than met these criteria, backing the business with substantial funding that allows us to concentrate on delivering next level broadband to the communities that need it most.”

Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk and Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss commented “The eastern region is home to a diverse portfolio of businesses from high tech farming to advanced manufacturing.

“More and more people are relocating to this area of the country, whether this is a lifestyle choice or employment opportunity, and the £1 billion investment and hundreds of jobs by Upp is great news.’’