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Wessex Internet Start Project Gigabit Broadband Build in New Forest

Tuesday, Dec 19th, 2023 (2:32 pm) - Score 840

Rural broadband ISP Wessex Internet has today announced that they’ve entered the roll-out phase of their £14m state aid supported Project Gigabit broadband contract for the New Forest area (Lot 27.01) of Hampshire (England), which will see them extend a full fibre (FTTP) network to “around” 10,500 hard-to-reach premises.

The operator’s civil engineers have started installing their first fibre optic cables to the small village of Martin, which is home to over 400 people and will act as one of the springboards into the New Forest. Work has also started in Whitsbury, a village near Fordingbridge. Whitsbury, along with Martin, Damerham and Rockbourne will be some of the first communities to be connected to the new network in 2024.

NOTE: Wessex Internet is backed by majority shareholder abrdn, which is a global investment company. The ISP recently secured £35m of additional funding, including a Senior Debt Facility from Triodos Bank (here).

The full roll-out is expected to take around “three years” to complete, which suggests a rough completion date of December 2026. The contract announcement in April 2023 also indicated that the first customer connections could go live as soon as February 2024, but today’s announcement made no mention of that date.

At present the provider’s existing network footprint is vaguely said to cover “tens of thousands of homes” (some of this may relate to their older wireless broadband network), while their current business plan targets an “additional150,000 premises by 2027 through a combination of subsidised and unsubsidised capital investment.

Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, Sir John Whittingdale, said:

“Starting work to bring gigabit broadband to rural communities across the New Forest marks a significant step forward in enhancing much needed connectivity. The government’s £5bn Project Gigabit investment is revolutionising connectivity in hard-to-reach areas across the UK, providing vital services to rural households and boosting businesses with fast and dependable broadband.

We are ensuring these communities are fit for the digital age, and I look forward to seeing how an improved digital infrastructure will transform not only the lives of residents and those working in the New Forest, but the many tourists who flock to the region each year as well.”

Hector Gibson Fleming, Wessex Internet CEO, said:

“It’s very exciting to see that construction has started and we are laying some of the first fibre cables that will bring our ultrafast broadband to residents of the New Forest.

Over the coming months we will continue our close collaboration with the community as we bring the benefits of world-class connectivity to residents and businesses across the New Forest.”

Prices for their full fibre packages usually start at £29 per month for a 100Mbps (15Mbps upload) tier on a 12-month term and attract a £49 one-off activation fee, although this only comes with a meagre 100GB data allowance. But the rest of their packages all include “unlimited usage” and rise up to £79 per month for their top 900Mbps (450Mbps upload) tier. Not the cheapest, but still a godsend for many as WI usually deploy in remote rural areas that lack FTTP coverage.

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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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