UK fixed line incumbent BT and the Isle of Wight Council have named the first communities that will benefit from the ‘multi-million pound’ rural fibre broadband partnership between the pair. With work to connect the first rural communities expected to get underway shortly, the first customers are likely to be able to place orders for fibre-based broadband services from ‘summer 2014’. Those communities that are included in the first phase of the project include parts of Shalfleet, Gurnard, Whippingham, Brighstone, Shorwell and Merstone. Confirming that additional areas will be covered ‘as the project gathers pace’, in a press release the Council confirmed that that overall scheme will see around 20,000 premises in largely rural parts of the island gain access to fibre connections once it is completed in autumn 2015. The venture, which it is claimed will make the Isle of Wight one of the best connected areas in the UK, is jointly funded by the Isle of Wight Council, which is investing GBP2.4 million (USD4.0 million) to match the investment provided by the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme.
Commenting on the progress so far, Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said: ‘This is great news for the Isle of Wight. BT has committed GBP2.7 million to build and operate the network across the Isle of Wight for the lifetime of the contract … Today’s announcement builds on BT’s commercial investment, which has already made fibre broadband available to around 49,000 premises, mainly in the Island’s towns.’