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Isle of Wight puts BT’s 99 per cent superfast broadband offer on the back burner

Isle of Wight councillors have put plans for 99 per cent superfast broadband coverage on the back burner. 

Despite the wide reaching plans that would see 20,000 people benefit from superfast connections, councillors wanted more time to consider the information given to them by BT and the government to ensure that residents would be getting the best value for money. 

The estimated cost of the project would be £7.6 million and the council would match £3.09 million provided under the Broadband Delivery for the UK (BDUK) fund. 

Isle of Wight puts BT’s 99 per cent superfast broadband offer on the back burner

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Fibre Broadband and BDUKAccording to local paper On The Wight, Councillor Philip Jordan is concerned that BT’s contribution to the fund would be a fraction of the cost and that over £3 million of public money would effectively be spent on connecting just 4,000 locations. 

Stuart Love, director of economy and environment at Isle of Wight Council also revealed that there had been pressure from the government to sign the contract so that work could begin. The local authorities however wanted more time to go over the finer points. 

A committee report seen by Recombu Digital shows that BT’s plans would see an intervention area created, ensuring that 90 per cent of properties would get an extra 10Mbps speed boost on top of current speeds, as well as rolling out speeds of 25Mbps and above to 99 per cent of premises. 

As well as this, the relatively smaller scale of connecting the Isle of Wight would see the job done by September 2015, ahead of many larger areas of the country.

A BT spokesperson expressed disappointment of the council’s decision to wait:  

“Naturally we’re disappointed that the decision on a supplier for the Isle of Wight broadband project has been temporarily deferred by the council. BT remains committed to making the great benefits of high-speed fibre broadband as widely available as possible on the Isle of Wight.

“More than 37,000 Isle of Wight homes and businesses already have access to the technology through BT’s commercial investment. Areas include Shanklin, Cowes, Newport, Ryde, Sandown and Ventnor.”

BT has currently upgraded six exchanges on the island as part of its own £2.5 billion commercial rollout. This leaves ten exchanges not on the upgrade path. Of course, BT upgrading an exchange doesn’t automatically mean that homes connected to it can order FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) or FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) broadband. Data from SamKnows will be able to give you the clearest picture of fibre broadband availability. 

BT’s commercial rollout is due to finish by Spring 2014, by which time 15 million locations should be able to order fibre-based broadband. Areas where this commercial rollout doesn’t reach should be filled in by BDUK rollout. 

As BT continues to trial technologies like vectoring, FTTC broadband should become available in more areas. Due to the length of the copper last mile, FTTC isn’t viable everywhere but vectoring should hopefully solve some of this. 

Isle of Wight councillors will meet on September 10 to discuss the BDUK plan in more detail. 

Image: David Jones/Flickr

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