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WightFibre Prep Full Fibre Broadband for 53,000 Homes on the Isle of Wight

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 (12:17 pm) - Score 551
isle of wight fibre optic map uk

Cable operator WightFibre has this week taken the wraps off their plan to deploy a new “full fibre” (FTTH) ultrafast broadband network to cover 53,000 of the 61,000 homes on the Isle of Wight (Hampshire, UK) by the end of 2022, which is being supported by an investment of £35 million (Infracapital).

At present the provider already offers broadband download speeds of up to 152Mbps via their existing cable (DOCSIS) hybrid fibre network, although they’ve been conducting trials of a new Gigabit (1000Mbps+) capable network using Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH/P) technology since 2016 (here) and have also recently done a lot of work to boost their network capacity (here).

At the end of last year ISPreview.co.uk revealed that the commercial roll-out of WightFibre’s new FTTH network would begin in 2018 and run until 2020, although at the time there were no further details and the plan was somewhat tentative.

The operator has now confirmed that they intend to begin this rollout during mid-2018 as planned (more detailed deployment plans will be published prior to the start of work) and they will aim to reach “all the main towns and villages on the island” by early 2021. Annoyingly the announcement mentions both 2021 and 2022 as completion years, which leaves some room for confusion.

WightFibre’s Gigabit Island

WightFibre full-fibre broadband is true fibre broadband. It delivers some of the world’s fastest broadband all the way into your home using fibre optic cabling all the way from the exchange into your home. This compares to the Openreach network used by BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and others which uses fibre to the cabinet [FTTC] but then copper twisted pair from the cabinet to the home.

A full-fibre network is capable of delivering truly unlimited broadband speeds to homes and businesses. Being fibre optic all the way into the home also means the network is ultra-reliable and much less susceptible to slowing down at peak times.

Currently serving Newport, Cowes, Wootton and parts of Ryde the WightFibre network will be extended to cover Ryde, Seaview, Bembridge, Nettlestone, Sandown, Lake, Shanklin, Ventnor, Freshwater and Yarmouth. The project will be complete by early 2021 and will cover over 50,000 home and businesses on the island.

Unfortunately WightFibre has not revealed what sort of prices and packages will be available to local residents, although this should follow in the not too distant future. We understand that the operator will also seek to support their deployment by attracting investment from the UK Government’s new £400m Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund for altnets; they aim to get 50% of the funding from this.

Andrew Jones MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“I am delighted that just four months since launching the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, we are already seeing investment in full fibre broadband flourish.

Today’s investment will help provide people living and working on the Isle of Wight with first-class connectivity fit for the future.

Working with private investors, we will be awarding providers more than £1 billion to bring this gold standard of broadband to people and businesses in all corners of the UK.”

Businesses will also be served by the new network. At this point there’s not a lot left to add, although we understand that the rollout timetable should look a little bit like this:

WightFibre Rollout
Phase 1 – Cowes, Netport Upgrade 2018-19
Phase 2 – Ryde, Bambridge, Nettlestone 2019
Phase 3 – Sandown, Shanklin 2019-20
Phase 4 – Ventnor 2020
Phase 5 – West Wight [To Be Confirmed]

The move should certainly give Openreach’s fairly new ‘up to’ 80Mbps FTTC (VDSL2) network on the island a run for its money, which was built with support from state aid (here). WightFibre always had strong objections to this.

Otherwise some 20 new permanent jobs and and 112 temporary ones will be created by the deployment (mostly via the civil engineering subcontractors).

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Mark Jackson

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.

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