The Isle of Wight has turned on the first superfast fibre broadband cabinet as part of a rural broadband deal between the council and BT.
More than 240 residents and businesses will be able to benefit from a connection to the cabinet in Farriers Way, Shorwell. Homes and businesses will be able to order fibre broadband services from a variety of broadband providers within the next few days.
Among the first local residents to benefit from the service will be David Lumley, employed by a multinational company in IT and who works from home in Shorwell one day a week.
He said: “This will make a massive difference for both myself and my wife. We are big internet users and this will enable us to work far faster and more efficiently."
He said: “As well as the major work benefits for both of us it will also be a great help with everyday things such as streaming television programmes and online shopping, as well as booking holidays and family history research. It will also be a real help with contacting our children on the mainland and relatives overseas.”
Pamela Wynn, landlady of The Crown Inn at Shorwell, is also looking forward to the benefits of the project. She said: “We use the internet for our till operation and to offer free wifi to customers, so greatly improved access and speeds will be a real boost to us as a business.
"Until now, access and speeds have been quite frustrating. This project will give us the opportunity to confidently expand the business in terms of offering business meetings and small conferences which require full internet and wifi facilities.”
Shorwell is in the first phase of communities to be connected under the project, which also include Gurnard, Whippingham, Brighstone and Merstone.
Once completed in autumn 2015, the overall project will enable around 20,000 premises in the largely rural parts of the island to access high speed broadband, said BT. When combined with BT’s own commercial roll out, 95 percent of island's homes will eventually have access to a superfast broadband connection, BT said.
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. BT says it is contributing capital and ongoing revenue funding of £2.7 million towards the overall cost of the broadband partnership.
Councillor Shirley Smart, Isle of Wight Council executive member for economy and tourism, said: “We can now look forward to many residents and businesses in rural areas being connected up over the coming months.
“This will bring significant benefits to people in these areas and should over time assist with attracting inward investment and providing a real boost for business and tourism.”