The APG Group NV has acquired 16.7% of SiFi Networks America and invested $500 million in a joint venture to build open access 10G FTTH networks in communities in the United States in which more than one-third of households do not have access to high speed connections.
APG is acting on behalf of Dutch pension fund clients. Asset management services for the JV will be provided by Whitehelm Capital during the rollout period.
SiFi uses the open access approach and, according to a press release, is “working alongside its delivery partners” in more than 40 U.S. cities with more than 1.5 million homes and businesses. The company says that more than 100 cities have expressed interest in using FiberCity’s open access business model. The company says that the capital infusion from APG will lead to billions of dollars in capex in the coming years.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better partner in APG, who has the financial resources and desire to create real social impact to enable our market leading open-access networks to roll out across the USA,” SiFi Networks’ CEO Ben Bawtree-Jobson said in a press release. “Cities, Consumers and ISPs can all benefit from our citywide fiber optic networks. From enabling Smart City applications, driving economic development and closing the digital divide, the advantages of becoming a FiberCity are staggering and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what is possible.”
In 2019, Telecompetitor discussed an open access project planned for Fullerton, CA with Bawtree-Jobson. Two broadband providers – GigabitNow and Ting – had plans in place to use the network on a wholesale basis to offer gigabit services to end users. Bawtree-Jobson said that the model is successfully used in Europe and only is implemented where there is potential for participation by multiple broadband providers. The company recently signed an agreement with Salem, Mass.
The transaction announced this week is a continuation of a relationship that began with APG’s “cornerstone” investment in Smart City Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) in November 2018. Whitehelm manages SCIF and the inaugural investment in April 2019 was in SiFi’s Fullerton project.