53,000 premises of full fibre for Isle of Wight
WightFibre who have two networks on the Isle of Wight with its DOCSIS cable network covering 12,000 premises and a fixed wireless network have secured some ?35 million of investment to allow for a massive expansion that will roll-out FTTP to some 53,000 premises. Assuming no overlap with the existing DOCSIS network this will take the island to practically 100% ultrafast coverage, and with upgrades to handle DOCSIS 3.1 both fixed line networks should be able to manage Gigabit speeds. The island does already have a little (100 premises) full fibre courtesy of the Isle of Wight BDUK project, where the bulk of the project delivered VDSL2.
The expansion is set to complete by early 2021 and while we are sure most residents on the island know where the operators cable network already is our map has a layer showing the cable operators presence. The press release tells us that the investment comes from the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund launched earlier in 2017 and WightFibre are the first company to benefit. It is likely that lots of questions will be asked whether previous investment in the superfast roll-outs by the local authority and Westminster have given value for money, seen as this latest investment will over build all of that.
Certainly any further re-use of savings and gainshare for extensions of the existing BDUK project on the island would look to be off the cards now, as the council will now hope that the take-up will increase enough before the WightFibre roll-out ramps to allow them to recover a chunk of money once the BDUK contract ends (they usually have a 7 year lifespan). The Isle of Wight BDUK project announced its original fund some 6 years ago, with ?3m from the local authority which combined with money from Westminster BT gave a fund of ?15m. Some info on the first areas to see the rollout appeared in 2014 and coverage plateaued in 2016.
We wonder what the BDUK contract says about gainshare payouts as to whether its based on the peak take-up during the contract term, or as one would expect with a roll-out like this take-up is actually going to decrease and thus be lower at the final contract end date than it is today.
To save people getting out the calculator the cost per premise for the BDUK project area if all ?15m was spent looks to be slightly higher than the cost of rolling out FTTP but there is a big flaw in this envelope based calaculation and that is that it must be pointed out that there is the line in the press release stating ‘secured an investment of ?35 million towards building a full-fibre’ the inclusion of the word towards suggests that the ?35m is not the full amount expected to be spent on the roll-out to the 53,000 premises.