abrdn Infrastructure fund portfolio company, Wessex Internet, wins Project Gigabit contract

18 April 2023

Contract will see gigabit-capable connectivity rolled out across the New Forest and surrounding areas

Dorset-based internet service provider, Wessex Internet, has secured a new three-year contract for nearly £14m as part of the UK Government’s Project Gigabit, which aims to provide gigabit-capable broadband to hard-to-reach communities across the UK.

abrdn’s third Core Infrastructure Fund, ASCI III, invested a majority position in Wessex Internet in September 2022.

This latest contract will enable Wessex Internet to roll out its full fibre broadband network to more than 10,000 homes and businesses in the New Forest and surrounding areas, including communities such as Brockenhurst, Burley, Beaulieu, Godshill, Hordle and Sway. This three-year programme of work will commence with an initial rollout planning period, with network construction starting in the first communities by the end of this year.

The New Forest contract is the second Project Gigabit contract awarded to Wessex Internet, following the award of Project Gigabit North Dorset. Project Gigabit is the UK government’s flagship £5 billion programme to enable hard-to-reach communities to access lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband. The fast, reliable connections delivered by Project Gigabit will level-up mostly rural and remote communities across the UK, such as The New Forest. With gigabit-capable broadband, households will enjoy improved bandwidth, businesses will be able to improve their productivity, and public services will become more accessible to people in remote areas.

Julia Lopez, Digital Infrastructure Minister said:

"Thanks to this latest multi-million pound contract for the New Forest, thousands of hard-to-reach homes and businesses in this stunning area will benefit from a state-of-the-art network ready to provide the speed and reliability we will all need in the decades ahead.

"The Prime Minister has put growing the economy as one of his five top priorities, and this investment will go far in delivering on that mission here in the New Forest by equipping rural areas with the infrastructure they need for the digital age."

Dominic Helmsley, Head of abrdn Infrastructure, said:

“We are thrilled to have won this government contract and look forward to bringing high-speed fibre optic internet to the New Forest. This is a tremendous opportunity for Wessex Internet and we continue to be very impressed by their commitment to make a significant impact to the region’s connectivity by delivering high quality infrastructure and customer service.”

Alex Anderson, Investment Director, abrdn Infrastructure, said:

“We believe that access to high-speed internet is essential for communities to thrive in the digital age. With this contract we have the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the economic and social development of the New Forest region, and we are delighted to be supporting the Wessex Internet team in delivering this highly impactful project.”

Hector Gibson Fleming, CEO at Wessex Internet, said:

“This is great news for homes and businesses in the New Forest who will be able to access world-class connectivity and the many economic and social benefits it provides. We will now work closely with the residents, communities and landowners across this beautiful national park to deliver this exciting programme.

“We’re delighted to be awarded our second contract under Project Gigabit. It is testament to the hard work and dedication of our team, and their strong track record of rolling out gigabit-capable connectivity to even the hardest to reach countryside communities.”

Wessex Internet is an award-winning local and independent broadband provider that is delivering ultrafast full fibre broadband across Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and South Somerset.

ASCI III is an Article 8 product under the EU’s Sustainable Financial Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) and its strategy promotes environment and social characteristics including improved rural digital connectivity. Wessex Internet is strongly aligned with this goal and its latest success further reinforces its role in supporting the Fund’s strategy. abrdn is currently fundraising for the fund which continues the strategy of investing in European small to mid-market infrastructure assets.


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Notes to editors

About abrdn

abrdn’s Core Infrastructure team has successfully raised and deployed two infrastructure funds totalling over €2.3 billion and is currently raising its third infrastructure fund, abrdn Core Infrastructure III.

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