Report Shows Progress and Benefits of Isle of Wight FTTP Broadband Rollout

A new report from Curia, which has been published by local ISP WightFibre, has revealed that the efforts to deploy gigabit-capable full fibre (FTTP) broadband networks across the Isle of Wight – just off the South Coast of Hampshire in England – are slowly nearing completion and could help to generate £328m of new business.

At present there are two operators deploying Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband technology at scale across the island, which is home to 141,000 people. The first is WightFibre, which according to the latest update has already spent over £80m (Dec 2023) – rising to £110m by 2030 – to cover 77% of the island (“nearly” 70,000 premises). This will increase to 86% (74k) of the island by the end of 2024 and 99% by 2027 (c.82,000 premises).

NOTE: Infracapital-backed WightFibre is running a bit behind schedule and previously aimed to cover c.78,000 premises (96%) by the end of 2023. But this is often the reality of building FTTP networks and shouldn’t distract from the otherwise excellent progress that continues to be made.

In addition, Openreach (BT) have so far invested £4.5m to cover 15,000 premises across the Isle of Wight (here), which is expected to reach around 45,000 premises by 2026. This forms part of their wider c.£15bn plan to cover 25 million UK premises by December 2026 and then rising up to 30m by around 2030 (close to universal coverage).

Suffice to say that the new report, which was commissioned by WightFibre, reflects the impact of this new network and has been designed to help the operator quantify the social, environmental, and economic value of full-fibre infrastructure to the island.

Benefits of Full Fibre to Isle of Wight by 2030

➤ Create 1,800 new jobs and safeguard 450 existing jobs.

➤ Generate £328M of new business and £73M of existing business safeguarded. This would foster an annual increase of £86M in new business GVA by 2030.

➤ Achieve Public sector savings of over £2M.

➤ Have a social wellbeing, digital inclusion, upskilling and employment impact of £50.2M.

➤ c.£2M of cashable public sector network savings by 2030. Over £3.5M savings per annum across the public sector, from 2024, with a new integrated plan for remote digital healthcare, if completed in conjunction with an integrated plan for digital inclusion and upskilling.

➤ Over £62.6M of equivalent carbon taxation savings by 2030 (including over £12M per annum by 2030).

John Irvine, CEO of WightFibre, said:

“WightFibre’s company purpose is about more than just providing broadband, its about helping make the Isle of Wight a better place to live, work and play. This report shows how WightFibre is delivering on that aim, leading the way on the delivery of full-fibre broadband across the Island.”

Clearly the new networks are most welcome and going to deliver some big benefits, which is good news. But as we always say when such reports surface, it remains incredibly difficult to accurately gauge the economic impact of deploying faster broadband. This is partly ecause most premises won’t be starting from a point of zero connectivity and many of the most common tasks (shopping, banking etc.) only need a basic connection. Suffice to say, such forecasts should always be taken with a pinch of salt.

NOTE: WightFibre currently has over £110m of funding from Infracapital Partners, the government’s Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, Nat West Bank and BDUK’s Gigabit Voucher funding. Infracapital also owns or has stakes in Gigaclear, Neos Networks, Fibrus and Ogi.

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