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

Gerli, Paolo; Wainwright, David; Whalley, Jason


David Wainwright

Jason Whalley


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.


Gerli, P., Wainwright, D., & Whalley, J. (2017). Infrastructure investment on the margins of the market: The role of niche infrastructure providers in the UK. Telecommunications Policy, 41(9), 743-756.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 11, 2017
Online Publication Date Mar 18, 2017
Publication Date 2017-10
Deposit Date May 20, 2021
Journal Telecommunications Policy
Print ISSN 0308-5961
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 41
Issue 9
Pages 743-756
Keywords Alternative broadband providers, Niche strategies, Digital divide, Digital inclusion, Broadband policy, UK
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