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WightFibre Begin Rollout of 1Gbps Home Broadband on Isle of Wight

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 (8:28 am) - Score 3,527

The joint £35m project between cable ISP WightFibre and Infracapital, which aims to deploy a new Gigabit capable ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband network to cover 53000 of the 61000 homes on the Isle of Wight (Hampshire, UK) by the end of 2022, has begun.

At present WightFibre already offers broadband download speeds of up to 152Mbps via their existing cable (DOCSIS) hybrid fibre coax network, although they’ve been conducting trials of a Gigabit (1000Mbps+) capable network using FTTH/P technology since 2016 (here) and at the end of 2017 the operator finally announced their Gigabit Island plans (here).

Last year’s announcement revealed that the operator intended to begin their rollout during mid-2018 and they would aim to reach “all the main towns and villages on the island” by early 2021.

Preliminary WightFibre Rollout Plan
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 main thrust of their deployment is still set to begin this summer, although today WightFibre has announced that the official roll-out phase will begin with a pilot deployment in Gurnard Pines, which will be followed by the Staplers area of Newport. All of this will involve the laying of fibre optic cable to around 400 homes during April and May 2018.

John Irvine, Wightfibre CEO, said:

The WightFibre Gigabit Island project is a major undertaking which requires some very specialist knowledge – knowledge of the latest civil engineering cable laying technology and of current fibre-optic networking technologies – essential in order to truly future-proof our network. We have been really fortunate to find much of this knowledge and expertise right here on the island.”

The operator has also announced several new appointments to support their strategy (pictured above) including Island-born construction industry veteran Steve Cooper (Director to oversee the rollout) and he will be supported by David Winfield, who joins as the new Programme Director.

On top of that the operator has also appointed a new Operations Director in the shape of Simon Poole and a new Business Development Director called Richard Reis. Pretty much all of the appointments have a lot of experience in the telecoms and IT sectors.

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

Finally, here’s a video of last year’s “Gigabit Island” announcement for anybody who may be interested.

Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. Avatar New_Londoner

    Good to see the new investment. Until the BDUK programme was announced cable on the island was much neglected but has since been spurred into action.

    • Not quite how the CEO of WightFibre saw all this back in 2013 when he said that they were “prevented from bidding” on the BDUK project and suggested that they could cover the island without any council money.

      I suspect this may be partly because they didn’t operate an open-access network and might not have met some of the other overly strict earlier BDUK framework requirements due to their small size etc.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      I’m pretty sure that they were “prevented from bidding” because they didn’t successfully bid to join the BDUK framework contract, so couldn’t bid separately for the Isle of White. IIRC their input to the OMR process was subsequently ruled ineligible by officers, although I can’t remember why.

      In any case the cable network at the time was in a sorry state, suffering from a lack of investment and not able to compete for broadband, being a generation or so behind on upgrades.

    • A lot of operators could not successfully join the BDUK programme (Phase 1 at least) despite bidding and the reasons for that are many and varied (closed networks, extreme company turnover requirements etc.), although after much criticism BDUK did eventually become more flexible after Phase 2. Hence why more recent contracts have also been scooped by operators like Gigaclear and so forth.

  2. Avatar GNewton

    That’s roughly £660.00 per premise to install fibre, which is not bad. So why is the main land UK so much more expensive?

    • It isn’t always more expensive, just look at some of the altnet deployments (e.g. TalkTalk in York is closer to £500 etc.). Depends where you go, who is deploying it, how and network complexity (regulation, local rules, open vs closed access platform etc.). So many factors to consider and every place is different.

    • Avatar CarlT

      It isn’t. That’s the budget Virgin Media have for Project Lightning.

    • Avatar occasionally factual

      Wightfibre are an existing cable company so they maybe using existing assets in the ground to reduce the install costs overall. And this is a urban rollout so more properties covered in a smaller area hence the lower costs.

    • Avatar AndyH

      Openreach estimated that it would cost £300-600 per premises passed to roll out FTTP to 10 million premises in the UK. This is in line with pretty much everyone else for the easier to pass areas.

      The simple reason why we see higher FTTP deployment costs published is these are the uneconomical areas completed under BDUK.

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