WightFibre have announced that the company has secured additional funding of £50million from NatWest Bank which, together with £35million equity funding from Infracapital, will see the Gigabit Island full-fibre project to completion.
28% of premises on the Isle of Wight currently have access to full-fibre broadband with the aim of rolling out fibre to all towns and villages on the Isle of Wight by the end of 2022, covering 80% of premises on the Island. A rolling programme up to the end of 2025 will also cover the more rural areas of the Island and fill gaps in urban coverage areas, connecting 96% of the Island by the end of that year.
It was originally stated that 65,000 homes would have full fibre broadband by the end of 2021, with properties in The Bay and Ventnor areas being on the network by December 2020. However, the PFI highways project means that roads and footways recently resurfaced are not allowed to be dug up for up to 5 years from the date of renewal. In addition, the Isle of Wight has a high percentage of unadopted roads and in many cases permission to dig has not been forthcoming in the first instance.
WightFibre’s full-fibre broadband network will provide speeds of up to 1Gb (1,000Mb) or faster to up to 70,000 homes and businesses across the Island, creating the UK’s first ‘Gigabit Island’.
John Irvine, WightFibre’s Chief Executive Officer, has said:
“WightFibre has made great progress in building the UK’s first Gigabit Island on the Isle of Wight, having already made full-fibre broadband available to nearly 20,000 premises. The additional funding announced today will enable us to connect around 96% of premises on the island, making Isle of Wight one of the most well-connected places in the world.
“WightFibre’s point to point network design means every home and business on the island will receive their own their dedicated fibre optic connection. This is practically unique in the UK making the Isle of Wight network not only world class but futureproof for decades to come”.
Ian Burroughs, Relationship Director, Corporate and Commercial at NatWest, said:
“Wightfibre has already shown its commitment to preparing communities and organisations for the future.
“The current Coronvirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus how important strong broadband infrastructure is for the UK to do business and NatWest is delighted to support WightFibre as it undertakes activity which will see the Isle of Wight become one of the most technologically ready regions of the country.”