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The UK Isle of Wight Hits 99 Percent Fibre Broadband Coverage Goal

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 (10:08 am) - Score 620
isle of wight uk

The Isle of Wight Council, which represents an island just off England’s central south coast (home to around 140,000 people), confirms that its joint £5.1m contract with BT has successfully expanded the reach of “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) to 99% of local homes and businesses.

The project, which is also supported by the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme, officially began its deployment phase during mid-2014 and has now ensured that an additional 20,000 premises in “largely rural parts of the Island” are able to benefit from the new network (this is on top of the 51,000 premises already covered via purely private investment).

However it’s worth pointing out that the 99% goal reflects the raw “fibre” footprint (including sub-24Mbps areas), while the contract also stated a goal for 90% of premises in the intervention area to have immediate access to superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps+. So far as we can tell the coverage of 24Mbps+ speeds today is actually around the 93-95% mark, which is very good indeed.

Shirley Smart, Member of the IoW Council Executive, said:

“I am more than delighted that we have reached the target of 20,000 homes and businesses in mainly rural areas now having access. We are also greatly encouraged that over the past 20 months, as the cabinets have been installed and gone live across the Island, more and more rural homes and businesses have been taking advantage of their new access.

This is great progress for those in rural areas, and combined with the commercial rollout, it ensures the Island is one of the best places in the UK for high-speed broadband coverage. Looking to the future it means the Island is extremely well-placed in terms of connectivity for its residents, visitors and businesses.”

Since the beginning of the partnership, 109 fibre broadband cabinets have ‘gone live’ around the Island and 4,200 premises in the intervention area have subscribed. However one operator that won’t be welcoming the news is WightFibre, which had previously voiced strong competition fears (here and here).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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11 Responses
  1. Steve Jones

    It’s slightly surprising that 93-95% superfast has been hit given that the contract was not awarded until fairly late (September 2013). Having said that, the Isle of Wight is not particularly rural with a moderately high population density and private investment coverage was already fairly high.

    I wonder if there’s any money left in the pot to extend this?

    • New_Londoner

      @Steve
      It’s even more impressive when you consider some of the negative comments from local commentators at the time that suggested the targets would be missed, the tech wouldn’t deliver etc. Well done to the IoW for sticking to its guns, ignoring the local “experts” and dissenting politicians!

    • gerarda

      It will be interesting to see how with almost 100% of cabinets the 5-7% of premises failed by the project can be served with a superfast solution

    • MikeW

      Presumably like they’re solving your particular exchange. More cabinets, beyond 100%.

  2. Steve Jones

    @gerarda

    “Failed by the project” is a bit judgemental isn’t it? It never was a project to get 100% superfast (the target was 90%), and even among the 5-7% who aren’t categorised as “superfast” a significant proportion will still get significantly better service. Of course that remaining number can be dealt with. It’s just (as always) a matter of how much cash there is. As I mentioned in my original post, it will be interesting to know how much money remains (there is surely some, especially with clawback/gainshare) and how it will be reinvested. What would also be interesting is to know how many premises can’t get the proposed 10mbps USO service level.

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