An Edinburgh-based wireless infrastructure provider has raised more than £200 million in long-term funding to invest in new structures delivering 5G connectivity.
Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG) has secured debt fundraising of £220m that will allow it to deploy connectivity-boosting infrastructure in rural and urban areas, as well as along key transport routes across the UK.
The new funding package involves institutional investors, Met Life, Barings and Vantage, along with banks Lloyds, RBS and Barclays.
WIG builds and operates communication masts and fibre-based networks to improve mobile coverage.
It invests in “neutral-host” infrastructure available to all mobile and wireless communication network operators on an open and shared basis.
Extending to 12 years, the funding will provide WIG with capital that is “complementary to its long-term investment horizon”, as it looks to build more fibre and small cell networks, which can be placed inside buildings and along busy streets to increase wireless capacity.
Speaking to The Scotsman, chief executive Scott Coates said: “In order to keep pace with demand and move to all the new services that the world of 5G can offer, there’s a need for additional new infrastructure to be deployed that is smaller and placed closer to the users.
“That means placing infrastructure on streetlights and street furniture and adding a lot infrastructure into buildings. Modern buildings are great at keeping in the heat in but terrible at letting mobile signal in.
“This new capital raise from blue chip institutions has been structured to expand with our growth and enables WIG to operate with a highly competitive cost of capital.”
Coates cited the recommendations in the UK government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, released in July, as presenting business opportunities for companies in the telecommunications sector to “unlock faster investment and enable imporoved mobile connectivity”.
The review proposed changes to ensure the majority of the UK population gets access to 5G and full fibre broadband coverage is provided across the country by 2033.
Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries, said: “The measures set out in our Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review will drive the large-scale commercial investment in fixed and wireless networks that is vital for the UK to remain globally competitive in a digital world.
“WIG’s accelerated investment in 5G-ready infrastructure will enable greater connectivity and choice for consumers. I look forward to hearing similar good news from the rest of the industry.”
Over the last year WIG has invested in high capacity Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) networks in city locations, including Liverpool FC’s 54,000 capacity Anfield Stadium.