More than 18,600 homes and businesses in mainly rural areas of the Isle of Wight now have access to faster fibre broadband speeds as a result of the Island’s rural broadband project.
Combined with the 51,000 premises with access via the commercial rollout by Openreach, BT’s local network division, and the infrastructure schemes of other communications providers, it means the Island now has close to 98 per cent access to faster broadband.
By early next year the rural fibre broadband project is expected to reach its target of nearly 20,000 Isle of Wight premises – ensuring the Island is one of the best connected areas in the UK, with 99 per cent fibre broadband coverage.
The multi-million pound rural broadband partnership is jointly funded by the Isle of Wight Council, which is investing £2.4 million to match the funding provided by the UK government through the BDUK programme - and BT, which is contributing capital and ongoing revenue funding of £2.7 million.
Over the past 16 months, 91 rural project fibre broadband cabinets have gone live around the Island, giving access to more than 18,600 extra premises. By completion there will be fibre access for the target of nearly 20,000 premises.
Figures show the level of ‘take up’ of access via the rural project has also been gathering momentum as more cabinets have been installed across the Island.
Between 12 June and 26 November this year, the number of households and businesses using the new high-speed technology in locations covered by the project nearly tripled from more than 1,200 to more than 3,000.
Isle of Wight Council Executive member for economy and tourism, Councillor Shirley Smart, said: “It is excellent news that we have almost reached the target of providing fibre broadband access for nearly 20,000 extra premises in mainly rural areas – and that ‘take up’ of this access is progressing well.
“This access ensures the Island will be one of the best connected areas in the UK, and it is vital now that as many people and businesses as possible take advantage of the benefits this can bring – especially with a view to attracting inward investment and providing a real boost for business and tourism on the Island.”
The new fibre-based network is open to all broadband internet service providers on an equal basis, so customers – both residential and business - will have access to a wide choice of broadband providers.
Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said: “Today marks an important milestone for the faster broadband revolution on the Island. Nearly 98 per cent of Isle of Wight homes and businesses already have access to faster broadband, so the Island is shaping up to be one of the best connected areas in the UK. This exciting technology is transforming the opportunities for communities across the Isle of Wight and the UK as a whole. Successful broadband partnerships are creating a lasting legacy, which will play a key role in the future prosperity of communities for many years to come.”
More information on the Isle of Wight project and if your area has access is available at: www.iwight.com/broadband