Isle of Wight Council

11 Sep 2013

Council Cabinet approves scheme to provide superfast broadband for 96 per cent of Island homes

The Isle of Wight Council Cabinet has agreed to appoint BT as the preferred supplier to put in place Next Generation Access (NGA) infrastructure to deliver superfast broadband to an estimated 20,000 premises in a mainly rural ‘intervention area’ across the Island where there is no commercial case for the provision of such infrastructure.

In its decision to appoint BT, the Cabinet set out stringent requirements to be met in the final contract and to be achieved by September 2015:

  • 99 per cent of Island premises to have NGA infrastructure.
  • 97 per cent of premises in the intervention area to have an NGA connection of at least 30mbps.
  • 87 per cent of premises in the intervention area to have immediate access to superfast broadband speeds of 24mbps post project.
  • 96 per cent of Island premises to have immediate access to superfast broadband speeds of 24mbps post project.

Once the infrastructure is in place, Island residents will have access to the full range of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with the potential for at least 60 ISPs to be available to residents.
 
Among the benefits the project is expected to provide for businesses and communities in the designated areas, are:

  • to help increase productivity through enabling more flexible working;
  • to make these areas more attractive for inward investment to the Island;
  • to make it less costly to start new businesses in these areas, by enabling remote  working;
  • to assist businesses to access new and different markets through the growth of
  • e-procurement activities;
  • to help communities communicate more quickly with public and other services.

Councillor Shirley Smart, cabinet member for tourism and economy, said: “This project is crucial to the future economic wellbeing of the Isle of Wight if we wish to be seen as a place where new businesses can be established, existing businesses can grow and to make us an attractive place for inward investment.”
 
Economic benefits

Previous reports on the economic impact of next generation access broadband have suggested that approximately 1,100 jobs could be created or safeguarded in the seven-year period following installation on the Island.
 
It will be a specific requirement of the contract that there will be a robust protocol between the council, BT and Island Roads to avoid unnecessary digging up of the highway more than once which will also help to save cost for all parties.
 
In 2010, the government set a target that the UK would have the best internet coverage and speeds of any country in Europe by 2015. It set aside £530 million to ensure the delivery of next generation access across largely rural areas where there was no commercial case for telecom providers to invest in the infrastructure.
The government established Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) to work with local authorities to deliver the projects.
 
In April 2012, the council submitted the Isle of Wight Broadband Plan to the government for approval and provisionally secured £3.09 million of match-funding.
 
Formal procurement process

The choice of BT as the preferred supplier on Tuesday, follows a formal procurement process and comes after a decision was deferred at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet in August.
 
The decision to defer was so the council could receive more information on the proposals and impact of the bid. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport - which is responsible for the match-funding grant – was among those who provided additional information.
 
Separate from the mainly rural infrastructure scheme, particularly in more densely-populated parts of the Island where investment is more commercially-viable, BT Openreach has been upgrading its telephone exchanges and other parts of the infrastructure - so residents and businesses can benefit from higher broadband speeds.
 
Of the approximately 72,000 premises on the Island, 52,000 are planned to be covered by commercial deployments such as those of BT Openreach. The remaining 20,000 homes and businesses, with no next generation broadband access, fall under this mainly rural areas project.

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The project will deliver high speed broadband to an estimated 20,000 homes in largely rural parts of the Island
The project will deliver high speed broadband to an estimated 20,000 homes in largely rural parts of the Island
Factfile
  • In December 2012, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reported that the internet contributes a larger share to the gross domestic product (GDP) in the UK than it does in any other G20 country.
  • In the past five years the internet has contributed 23 per cent to the UK’s GDP growth.
 
Isle of Wight, UK