Isle of Wight BDUK project to benefit first communities by September
The first communities to benefit from the Isle of Wight Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project have been announced, with homes and businesses in parts of Shalfleet, Gurnard, Whippingham, Brighstone, Shorwell and Merstone able to benefit from superfast broadband from this summer.
The project will eventually cover 20,000 properties not being covered by BT’s commercial rollout of fibre by September 2015, when it is claimed the island will be one of the best connected parts of the UK.
BT has currently extended fibre coverage to 49,000 homes and businesses on the island, but local leaders claim the additional rollout will increase the islands competitiveness and boost links with the rest of the country.
Isle of Wight BDUK
“This is an important investment for the council in supporting the Island’s connectivity to the mainland and indeed the world and as a springboard from which the Island’s economy can grow,” said Councillor Shirley Smart, Isle of Wight Council executive member for economy and tourism. “Homes and businesses in some of our towns are already seeing the benefits of superfast broadband and we are delighted that work is starting to connect the largely rural parts of the Island.
“Having fast internet speeds across the whole island is not only vital to the success of our small businesses, it is also key to attracting inward investment, one of the council’s key priorities. In addition, this investment will help us as we look at innovative ways of delivering more council services online. This is very important as the council looks to make financial savings over the coming years.”
Isle of Wight council is contributing £2.4 million to the project, with that figure being matched by the government. However an agreement with BT was only reached last September after the council delayed its decision on whether to award its BDUK funds as it said it needed more information on the bid.
BT has won all of the government funding available under BDUK, however the initiative has been criticised by MPs who have called on the company and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to be more transparent about planned coverage and costs. It also claims the process has granted BT a virtual monopoly in rural broadband.