Infrastructure investment on the margins of the market: The role of niche infrastructure providers in the UK

Paolo Gerli, David Wainwright, Jason Whalley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Across Europe, policymakers and market forces are striving to deploy next generation access (NGA) networks and ensure ubiquitous access to superfast broadband services. Due to scale economies and sunk costs, the roll-out of NGA is expected to be profitable only for large-scale providers and in densely populated areas. Nonetheless, alternative providers, such as utilities and local communities, have significantly contributed to NGA diffusion in many countries. Over the past five years, several small-scale initiatives have emerged in the UK, bringing fibre networks to urban and rural areas previously overlooked by either commercial or subsidised deployments. A multiple case study approach is employed here to explore the nature and the drivers of niche providers in the UK NGA market. All these initiatives are demand-driven and to follow a modular approach. Despite adopting different business models, they all rely on the resources inherited from past broadband initiatives and relationships with local partners. By investigating the strategies of niche providers in NGA market, this analysis sheds light on their contribution to bridging the digital divide in the UK and is presented as a preliminary assessment of their sustainability and potential growth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-756
Number of pages14
JournalTelecommunications Policy
Issue number9
Early online date18 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


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