Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), a government project to supply 95% of the UK with superfast broadband by 2017, has reached the Isle of Wight.
Telecoms giant BT was appointed by the Isle’s Council in September 2013 to deliver Next Generation Access (NGA) infrastructure with the aim of making fibre broadband available to an estimated 20,000 premises.
The area to be covered by BT Openreach is regarded as a mainly rural, “intervention area” – meaning there is no commercial case for the provision of the fibre infrastructure.
The contract between the firm and the local authority requires BT to provide 99% of Island premises to have NGA infrastructure and 90% of the intervention area to have immediate access to Internet speeds of at least 24mbps by September 2015.
The first rural broadband cabinet as part of BDUK on the Isle of Wight is now live, allowing 240 residents and businesses to benefit from the connection.
The cabinet is located in Shorwell, with Gurnard, Whippingham, Brighstone and Merstone next on the list as part of phase one of the project this summer.
The fibre-based network will be open to all ISPs (Internet service providers) on an equal basis, allowing businesses and the general public a wide variety of broadband providers.
“This is terrific news that the first cabinet has gone live. We can now look forward to many residents and businesses and rural areas being connect up over the coming months,” claimed Isle of Wight Council executive member for economy and tourism Cllr Shirley Smart.
“This will bring significant benefits to people in these areas and should over time assist with attracting inward investment and providing a real boost for business and tourism,” she added.
Isle of Wight residents have praised the BDUK development, with Pamela Wynn, a pub landlady, describing access to faster Internet as “a real boost to business,” adding that previous speeds had been “quite frustrating.”
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Digital Industries, also had positive feedback, claiming that the Isle of Wight is undergoing a “remarkable transformation of broadband” and it demonstrates that the government is on track to deliver its superfast broadband promise.
The project is partly funded by the Isle Council, which has invested £2.4m to match funding provided by Whitehall via the multi-million pound BDUK funding pot.
BT has contributed a further £2.7m of capital and ongoing revenue funding towards the overall cost of the broadband partnership.