Pennsylvania explores broadband P3

The developer would install fibre-optic cables spanning the 360-mile Pennsylvania turnpike and could use market and lease capacity on the network for commercial purposes.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has released information about a fibre-optic public-private partnership it is procuring ahead of a request for qualifications to be issued in July.

PTC published a preliminary information memorandum describing the project as a 30-year concession agreement with a qualified developer that will design, build, finance and maintain a broadband infrastructure network spanning the 360-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The developer must raise funds for the project and install fibre-optic cables, conduits and junction boxes, according to the memorandum. The developer will also be able to use market and lease capacity on the network for commercial purposes. PTC said it is seeking broadband developers that have undertaken projects of similar or greater scale.

Pennsylvania's Public-Private Transportation Partnership Board approved PTC's proposal to procure the development as a P3 last May.

Growth in global data consumption has increased by around 45 percent per year, driving opportunities for investment in fibre-optic and broadband projects.

“There is no other infrastructure sector, I don't think, that has the kind of fundamental tailwinds that the communications sub-sector has,” Todd Bright, managing director of private infrastructure in the Americas for Partners Group, recently told Infrastructure Investor .

There have been a wave of infrastructure funds investing in fibre and broadband over the past year. In February, EQT Infrastructure acquired Lumos Networks, a US fibre services provider, for $950 million. The same month, KKR purchased 40 percent of Telxius, a firm whose assets include cables to and across the US and Mexico, for €1.27 billion. And last year, Partners Group bought Calgary-based Axia NetMedia for C$272 million ($202 million; €188 million).