The National Digital Infrastructure Fund (NDIF, the Fund) forms an element of the UK Government’s landmark Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF), a £400m government initiative.
NDIF is aimed at accelerating U.K. full-fibre broadband network development by unlocking new sources of capital for the businesses building them to grow sufficient scale and challenge the existing copper-based networks. This initiative opens the way for institutional investors to gain access to the sector and invest alongside Government.
Digital connectivity is a critical building block for the modern U.K. economy but less than 2% (Analysys Mason, based on actual numbers for 1H 2015 and forecasts for 2H 2015) of U.K. premises are currently estimated to have access to ultrafast fibre to the premise (FTTP) connectivity. The roll-out of ultrafast broadband and other high speed digital infrastructure across the U.K. is driven by growing demand from end-consumers, many of whom remain poorly or under-served by existing infrastructure.
Amber sees full-fibre broadband, together with the fibre networks that underpin 5G, as one of the most promising sectors in the infrastructure and wider alternatives asset class. Broadband connectivity to the home and workplace has become a vital part of core economic infrastructure with clear long term parallels with established utilities like gas, electricity and water.
NDIF will target investment in digital fibre-based broadband networks and related businesses to boost the deployment of full-fibre connections and ultrafast broadband access across the UK. NDIF expects mainly to make loans (including subordinated loans) but may also make equity investments and will provide its investors with access to a wide range of full fibre investment opportunities.
HM Treasury has announced it will commit £400 million to DIIF over a period of 4 years. Broadly half of this is expected to be allocated to NDIF, which will be match-funded by the private sector.
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