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ruralbroadbandcabinetThe installation of the first cabinets for the Isle of Wight’s multi-million pound rural superfast fibre broadband project is now underway.

More than 380 homes and businesses in parts of Shorwell and Shalfleet will be the first to benefit under phase one of the major infrastructure project, a partnership between the Isle of Wight Council, BT and the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. The first customers will be able to place orders for high speed broadband this summer.

The installation programme follows the recent delivery of the cabinets to BT’s Ryde depot. Once cabinets have been put in place they will then be connected to power sources and the fibre network.

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Also among the first communities to benefit from the programme this summer are parts of Gurnard, Whippingham, Brighstone and Merstone. Altogether, more than 120 new pieces of equipment are due to be installed during the project.

Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, said:

“This fantastic news marks the next stage of a remarkable transformation of broadband on the Isle of Wight, with an estimated 20,000 homes and businesses on the Island to gain access to superfast speeds by autumn next year. We understand how important access to superfast broadband is – the UK already does more business online than any other European country, and the widespread access to superfast broadband that this scheme will deliver will provide a tremendous boost to the Isle of Wight’s economy.”

The new fibre-based network is open to all broadband internet service providers on an equal basis, so customers – both domestic and business – will have access to a wide choice of broadband providers.

Once completed in Autumn 2015, the overall project will have enabled around 20,000 premises in the largely rural parts of the Island to access high speed broadband – making the Island one of the best connected areas in the UK.

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The multi-million pound partnership is jointly funded by the Isle of Wight Council, which is investing £2.4 million in the project to match the funding provided by the UK government through the BDUK programme.

Isle of Wight Council Executive member for economy and tourism, Councillor Shirley Smart was shown the new cabinets at BT’s Ryde depot by BT South East partnership director, Peter Cowen. She said:

“With the first cabinets being installed we are now very close to seeing the first customers being connected as part of this major investment project.

“This will provide significant benefits for business development on the Island in these communities, particularly in terms of activities such as web sales and supply, file transfer and telecare opportunities – and attracting inward investment to the Island. It should be of particular benefit to the Island’s very important tourism industry.

“Residents in these areas, meanwhile, will experience many benefits due to better connectivity, including activities such as streaming films, tv and music.

“This project is a major investment by the council in promoting the Island’s economy and will ensure fast internet speed in many rural areas – in addition, of course, to those homes and businesses in our towns which have already been seeing the benefits of superfast broadband.”

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, added:

“This is great news for the Isle of Wight. BT is contributing capital and ongoing revenue funding of £2.7 million towards the overall cost of the broadband partnership which will ensure more households are able to benefit from high-speed broadband, whether they are using the internet for research and online training or just browsing for entertainment and leisure purposes.

“This announcement builds on BT’s commercial investment, which has already made fibre broadband available to around 49,000 premises, mainly in the Island’s towns. Faster broadband will also help local businesses grow, attracting inward investment and boosting the local economy.”

As part of the contract, BT has been working closely with Island Roads in planning the installation works.

Photograph: Cllr Shirley Smart, Executive member for economy and tourism, views the new cabinets at BT’s Ryde depot, with BT South East partnership director Peter Cowen

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