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Wildanet Says Gigabit Broadband May Give Devon a £1bn Boost

Tuesday, Jul 11th, 2023 (9:34 am) - Score 1,080
Wildanet Engineer Doing FTTP House Install

A new “independent report” from policy institute Curia, which was commissioned by rural UK ISP Wildanet, has claimed that the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband across Devon (England) could generate £1.125 billion of new business gross value added (GVA) for the county by 2030.

The report was designed to assess the potential impact of gigabit-capable broadband in Devon, including on the economy, social value and wellbeing, and environmental net-zero savings. In order to do this, it assumes that the new connectivity will be universally available by 2030 and extensively available by 2025.

NOTE: Curia notes that 75% of the UK can already access gigabit-capable broadband, but this drops to over 54% in Devon.

Overall, the report predicts that such deployments will deliver £1.125 billion of new business GVA and £160m of business GVA safeguarded per annum by 2030. Some of the headline benefits will include c.£8m of cashable public sector network savings per annum, as well as over £30m savings per annum across the public sector for a new integrated plan for remote digital healthcare, digital inclusion and upskilling.


In addition, Curia anticipates a social wellbeing, digital inclusion, upskilling and employment impact of £380m by 2030 and over £400m of equivalent carbon taxation savings between 2021 and 2030 (£45 million per annum by 2025 and £83 million per annum by 2030).


Naturally, the Gresham House-backed Wildanet has a vested interest in forecasts like this, not least because they’re currently investing £100m to build their own Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network across parts of Cornwall and Devon in South West England. But it should be noted that they’re not the only operator doing this, with Openreach, Jurassic Fibre, Virgin Media (VMO2) and others also working on similar builds.

Helen Wylde, CEO of Wildanet, said:

“This report highlights not only the opportunity we have to bring transformational change to those in rural and remote communities, but the responsibility we have in achieving it. Our mission at Wildanet is to end digital poverty through connecting people, communities, and businesses, wherever they are in Cornwall and Devon.

We recently received an additional £50m investment from our principal shareholder, Gresham House, which will enable us to accelerate our high-speed broadband roll-out in Devon and Cornwall by up to five years and therefore accelerate digital inclusion with all of its benefits. While this report is specific to Devon, there are clearly implications for the provision of high-speed broadband nationally”.

However, it’s worth remembering that trying to accurately gauge the economic impact of deploying faster broadband is notoriously difficult, not least since most premises won’t be starting from a point of zero connectivity (e.g. 93% of Devon already has access to speeds of 30Mbps+). The biggest immediate benefit is usually felt in rural areas, which tend to wait the longest for an upgrade, but these have less impact overall due to their smaller populations.


On top of that, we’re all very different in our consumption requirements, and not all businesses benefit from having access to significantly faster broadband speeds than are currently available. For example, the difference between 10-30Mbps and 1000Mbps is largely irrelevant when talking about basic tasks like online shopping, email and banking etc. Not to mention that most homes won’t actually take the top 1Gbps tier once it’s available and slow WiFi may mean that, even when somebody does have a 1Gbps line, they might not always be enjoying its full potential.

Put simply, any study that claims to show a huge economic boost should be taken with a pinch of salt, as they’re often overly optimistic in their expectations of impact. Nevertheless, few could disagree that there does tend to be a strong positive relationship between broadband investment and growth, even if there is an issue of diminishing returns.

Finally, it’s important to remember that any economic boost from the gigabit rollout phase itself will be temporary, since the network operators won’t need that many staff once the builds have been completed. A lot of operators and third-party contractors will ultimately end up shedding many of the jobs they’ve created to support such efforts.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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9 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

    I sometimes wonder what the point of these reports are. Aside from excuses to issue press releases.

    Perhaps Wildanet could actually try to build the network instead of talking about how great it’ll be when it’s done (even though Openreach are probably building there already)

  2. Avatar photo Clive peters says:

    what’s the handheld thing in the photo?

    1. Avatar photo Alex A says:

      The tune in the photo is just a narrow tube, the handheld thing blows the fibre through the narrow tube using air. Blown fibre subduct is fairly common.

    2. Avatar photo FibreEng says:

      It’s a duct integrity gun, it’s used to fire sponges and/or darts down the line to the cabinet to remove moisture from the 7mm tubes before blowing the fibre.

    3. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      It’s a Factoid Generator. Acts as a pump, compresses unfiltered atmospheric air (and thus produces heat), and the resultant modestly hot air is used to puff up press releases with unprovable “facts”. If the operator keeps the button down for longer, the more hot air is produced and the larger the quantum attached to the factoid. The photograph may even show the Wildanet press release being created, and the bloke is looking at the dial, the needle’s just passed the “one billion of something” indicator, he’s let it ride to exactly one and one eighth billion and he’s thinking the job’s a good ‘un. That’s craftsmanship for you.

    4. Avatar photo Hadleigh says:

      Pressure meter for the integrity of the microduct, should hold pressure to prove its not leaking air.

    5. Avatar photo The Facts says:

      And to identify the duct at the other end?

  3. Avatar photo The Facts says:

    ‘since most premises won’t be starting from a point of zero connectivity (e.g. 93% of Devon already has access to speeds of 30Mbps+). ‘


  4. Avatar photo The Facts says:

    ‘In the rest of Devon, the gigabit coverage is 54 per cent, the full-fibre coverage is 49 per cent and the Alt-Net coverage is 18 per cent. Thus, 46 per cent of this area has no 100 Mbps coverage at all. The current UK-wide coverage of gigabit broadband stands at 75 per cent’


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