Financier George Soros has led a £50m investment in fibre-optic company Hyperoptic, which lays high-speed lines direct to UK homes.
The funding, from the Soros investment vehicle Quantum Strategic Parters, will help Hyperoptic reach its target of 500,000 homes within the next five years.
Its "hyperfast" lines transmit information at 1 gigabit per second, which is more than 80 times the UK broadband average of 12 megabits per second, and the company has already reached 20,000 homes in London. Hyperoptic plans to bring its service to 10 additional cities by the end of the year, with locations driven by demand from consumers.
As part of the investment, two directors from Soros Fund Management, Waldemar Szlezak and Joshua Ho-Walker, are joining the Hyperoptic board. Soros, best known for currency trading, has more recently made a series of telecoms investments, from mobile towers in Africa to backing Irish entrepreneur Denis O'Brien's bid to run a network in Burma.
Hyperoptic was founded in 2010 by entrepreneurs Boris Ivanovic and Dana Tobak, who created the UK internet service provider Be, which was sold to the O2 mobile network for £50m in 2006, and is now part of BSkyB.
While BT is installing fibre to street cabinets across the country, it relies on copper from cabinet to the home, which can reduce speeds. Fewer than 1% of UK premises are directly plugged into fibre lines, according to the Fibre to the Home Council Europe, compared with 50% in Japan and 10% in the United States.
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