The whole Island is set to benefit from improved broadband after the Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet announced plans to invest £3 million in helping to provide super-fast technology.
The announcement by Isle of Wight Council deputy leader, George Brown, at (Tuesday 13th December) cabinet meeting follows a commitment by BT to install super-fast broadband in ‘commercially viable areas’ – homes and businesses in Newport, Cowes and Ryde.
Welcome as that investment is, it would still leave many homes and businesses in other more rural areas without the improved service. The new investment announced tonight will see those properties also able to access new high-speed broadband.
Under the proposals, the council would invest £3 million to bring super-fast broadband to the Island. This would be matched by government money and further investment from the private sector and bring the total investment into super-fast broadband on the Island to £15 million.
Councillor Brown, who is also cabinet member responsible for the economy, said: “BT’s massive investment is very good news but would not provide the total solution as it would not bring super-fast broadband to some of the Island’s significant towns nor its rural areas.
“What we are proposing will mean that rather than having a two-speed Island, we will have super-fast broadband available to everyone wherever they live or work.
“In what are very difficult economic times we have made some difficult decisions in order to allow us to invest in our priority areas. One such area is the economy and this investment is a statement of that intent and one that will bring tangible benefit to the Island’s businesses and residents.”
The news was welcomed by Island business leaders. Norman Arnold from the Isle of Wight branch of the Federation of Small Businesses which represents around 1,000 businesses, said: “We would welcome the roll out of super-fast broadband across the Island with open arms. It will provide a real competitive advantage to most Island business, whether in manufacturing, hospitality, retail or the service sectors.
“We have some of the country’s best small and specialist enterprises here on the Island. Many are at a disadvantage because of the Solent, many more because of the slow speed of communications and lack of bandwidth. All we need is an even playing field and we can compete with anybody. This investment will help us greatly in that respect.”
Kevin Smith chief executive officer of the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce said the plan would be absolutely superb news for the Island, for business and for the future of the local economy.
It is anticipated that the installation work – if the investment is approved as part of the council’s budget setting process – could begin in the first half of 2013. It would dovetail wherever possible with the work that will be done to improve the roads network under the Highways PFI.
The council will in the new year explain more about the super-fast proposals and to encourage businesses and residents to demonstrate their support which is a requirement of the matched funding.
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