‘At first I wasn’t sure how these things came to life, but when you’re on a project you realise we really do apply our principles to the job.’

Personal profile
Name: Peter Gerrish
Position: Senior Consultant
Oxera career: Analyst 2011, Consultant 2012, Senior Consultant 2017
Education: MSc Economics, Bristol University, PGDip Economics, Bristol University, Bachelor Engineering (Communications) (Hons), RMIT University, Australia

Project profile
Client: CityFibre
Sector: Telecoms, Media & Post
Project: Network investment model review
Skills: Market design and Regulation

Q: Peter, you worked on the review of CityFibre Holdings’ co-investment
model. What was the client’s issue and what was the project all about?

A: CityFibre Holdings asked us to review its existing investment model.

As an alternative network operator, CityFibre delivers ‘superfast’ broadband in towns and cities outside the UK’s major centres. This requires significant investment in civil infrastructure, cabling and equipment. CityFibre was concerned with its existing level of investment, the pace of network roll-out and the sustainability of the industry, all of which led it to seek alternative models.

Q: How did we help it achieve success?
A: CityFibre has a clear passion for delivering a bold alternative to broadband networks; Oxera matched this with a passion for economics in the communications sector. We helped CityFibre deliver an industry model that addressed the economic factors behind the ‘underinvestment’ problem. CityFibre has since developed exciting new partnerships and plans to extend its roll-out to over 1m homes with an additional £30m in funding. Not a bad result!

Q: How did we do it and what was your role in the project?
A: First, we compared the investment model against a co-investment concept that we had previously developed for Vodafone (the ‘NetCo’ model). We adapted the NetCo thinking to CityFibre’s situation, bringing together network operators, investors and entrepreneurs to participate.

As an Analyst on the project, I was able to contribute in meetings and brainstorms directly with the client, as well as reviewing industry evidence, EU Directives and UK parliamentary enquiries.

I also articulated economic arguments relating to underinvestment and explained technical telecommunications issues such as network topology
and scalability to a non-technical audience. Challenging, but really exciting and totally involving.

Q: What made the project most compelling for you?
A: It was exciting to see a real-world application of economic solutions
to the problem of underinvestment in an entrepreneurial context. And it
gave me great first-hand experience of how industry leaders assess infrastructure investments and risks that play a part in their decision-making process.

Also, just seeing our company’s values played out in practice was a real eye-opener. At first I wasn’t sure how these things came to life, but when you’re on a project you realise we really do apply our principles to the job.