Telenet, Fluvius launch newco, move from HFC to fibre

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Belgian service provider, Telenet and operator, Fluvius have partnered to form a new company that will help realise both parties’ ambitions of to provide speeds of 10Gb/s. 

Telenet will own 66.8 per cent of the joint venture, which has a working name of NetCo, while Fluvius will own 33.2 per cent. Combining both companies’ fixed network assets, NetCo will invest in the gradual evolution of their current hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) network infrastructure into an FTTH network, targeting 78 per cent of their combined footprint in Flanders by 2038, through a combination of own build and/or a potential collaboration with external partners. 

Telenet’s footprint in parts of Brussels and Wallonia will also be included in NetCo and be part of NetCo’s investments. The estimated investment of up to maximum €2bn will be funded through NetCo’s cash flow as well as additional intragroup financing facilities and will therefore not require any incremental external financing. The majority of this investment will be done within the next eight years. NetCo will also focus on upgrading the existing HFC network with DOCSIS technology in areas where FTTH will not be deployed. This will ensure that everyone in Flanders will continue to enjoy the fastest and most reliable internet connection.

The new company is expected to begin operations at the beginning of 2023. NetCo’s CEO will be appointed by NetCo’s board of directors. At launch, the employment of approximately 170 current Telenet employees will transfer to NetCo, which also aims to hire an additional 50 people. Fluvius will not transfer personnel, but will ensure a smooth transition of the relevant activities. Its current telecom employees will assume other tasks within Fluvius in the future against the backdrop of the challenges in terms of energy transition. NetCo will operate an open network and will provide non-discriminatory access to it. Operators will be provided with network access on the basis of wholesale agreements. ​

John Porter, CEO at Telenet said: ‘This partnership kickstarts our next investment cycle and will ensure that our state-of-the-art networks continue to be in the vanguard: remember that we provide already today 1Gb/s speeds across our entire footprint to all our customers. Using a mixture of both HFC and fibre technologies, we have a clear roadmap to offer all our customers speeds of 10Gb/s. With Fluvius as a strong partner, we will continue to develop our HFC infrastructure and implement as well new fibre technology, mainly in the last parts of our network, from the street into the homes.’

Frank Vanbrabant, CEO at Fluvius added: “At Fluvius, we are very pleased that in this partnership with Telenet, we can prepare Flanders for the digital life of tomorrow. The data network of the future will avoid a new digital divide and ensure that all Flemish families and companies can count on super-fast data connections in the world of tomorrow. We want to realise an open and non-discriminatory network at the lowest possible social cost.’

Richard Thorpe, chief delivery officer at CityFibre

15 August 2022

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