euNetworks has acquired The Loop from Gamma Telecom. The Manchester-based network was launched in 2012 and connects key commercial districts, 70 commercial buildings and 20 data centres in Manchester, Salford and Trafford via its 180 kilometre high-capacity fibre network. Its customers include media companies and public sector organisations.
“Manchester is an important and growing digital hub and we’ve been keen to develop our presence in the city for some time,” noted Brady Rafuse, CEO of euNetworks. Rafuse commented that the acquisition enhanced euNetwork’s Super Highway, which runs from Dublin through to Manchester, London and Lowestoft, and strengthened its proposition by adding extra capacity and unique routes.
“In addition, our focus on the media sector is immediately strengthened with [The Loop’s] knowledge and strong reputation among the media and broadcast community in Manchester and the UK. There’s a great opportunity from the teams and the networks coming together to develop and future-proof some of the larger content requirements of these companies,” added Rafuse.
Manchester is one of the biggest media and digital hubs in Europe. Telecoms group TalkTalk is headquartered at nearby Salford Quays and Vodafone has sited its Innovation Hub at MediaCity (part of Vodafone’s investment in seven so-called ‘Gigacities’). The UK’s first commercial 5G network was launched in Salford, and MediaCity itself will more than double in size in the next 10 years, with £1 billion set to be invested.
We think this is a smart move for euNetworks and mirrors that of other B2B telecoms firms that are buying or building capabilities to better serve the UK media industry.
The motivation is clear. Media is one of the key industries driving demand for more bandwidth, better QoS and lower latency in the UK. It’s also a significant industry for the economy, with PwC forecasting it will net just short of £80 billion by 2024.
As an industry, it’s also proven to be relatively COVID-proof. While some sectors – such as cinema, live music and events – have been challenged, many others have boomed as demand shifted to digital alternatives, further driving demand for ICT services, storage and network capacity. On the B2B side of the industry, COVID stimulated a shift to remote production, opening up a range of new opportunities for service providers. This has been boosted by major investments such as those planned for MediaCity Manchester and the new film studio being built in East London.
A large proportion of the media industry is based in London; but there are also significant regional and sectoral hubs such as Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Brighton. And with more working from home and more consuming from home, the industry will continue to drive digital demand across the UK.
While MediaCity Manchester will undoubtedly expand, our money on ‘one to watch’ is the Yorkshire hub centred on Leeds. Long a gaming centre and production hub, it’s now home to Channel 4 and has seen increased investment in both production and post-production. Leeds may be a mere 38 miles from Manchester across the Pennines but draws from a different talent pool and balances up the East-West divide that has seen so much media money shift to Manchester after the BBC opened up shop there 10 years ago. It benefits from fast access to London, as well as proximity to other regional centres of expertise such as Newcastle, Sheffield and Bradford.