WightFibre Curia Report 2024

WightFibre has always seen the importance of high-speed internet and how it is essential for both economic development but also general quality of life. Recognising this, WightFibre has taken significant steps to enhance broadband connectivity across the Isle of Wight. To make sure this goal is achieved, we have commissioned a report by Curia, a renowned research and consultancy firm to produce a comprehensive report to document the impact of our efforts.

WightFibre is pursuing the Isle of Wight Council’s 2017 Digital Island Vision to transform the Isle into the world’s smartest, most connected island. The Vision itself is based off the core principles and objectives, shaped by local stakeholders, and driven by the environment and the economy, which characterise the unique nature of the Isle of Wight. In turn, the island has been changing via an ambitious transformation programme to combat the structural, economic, and financial issues that it will face in the future. The islands future prosperity is reliant on many aspects such as the transformation of public services, overcoming the separation from the mainland, educating the island’s young people, attracting inward investment, and retaining talented Islanders.

As of December 2023, the report highlights the significant strides made in broadband coverage on the Isle of Wight. 77% of the island’s premises have access to full-fibre broadband, with plans to reach 99% by 2027. This local investment from WightFibre’s Gigabit Island project positions the Isle of Wight ahead of the national average, where only 60% of premises in the UK have similar coverage​. Enhanced broadband coverage ensures that residents and businesses on the Isle of Wight have access to high-speed, reliable internet. This infrastructure is essential for modern digital services, remote working, and supports the island’s goal to become one of the best-connected places globally.

Curia goes on to predict the substantial economic benefits from the widespread adoption of gigabit broadband. By 2030, it is estimated that gigabit broadband will contribute £328 million in new business gross value added and safeguard an additional £73 million. This growth is attributed to increased productivity, new business startups, inward investment, and job creation​. For WightFibre customers, this means a more robust local economy with more job opportunities and higher wages. Businesses, particularly small and medium-sized ones, will benefit from improved productivity and the ability to leverage advanced digital tools and services.

The report also emphasises the role of gigabit broadband in enhancing quality of life by supporting remote healthcare, education, and social inclusion. This connectivity is crucial for bridging the digital divide and ensuring that all residents have access to essential online services. This is particularly important for vulnerable and remote populations who may otherwise be excluded from these benefits. The report also touches on the environmental benefits of improved broadband infrastructure. By encouraging remote working and reducing the need for travel, gigabit broadband can contribute to significant carbon reductions. This aligns with WightFibre’s broader efforts to achieve Net Zero targets. Having less people travel to work allows people to personally help combat climate change which in turn also supports the islands environment goals.

Finally, Curia sees WightFibre’s investment in full-fibre broadband to be compared to the transformative impact of 19th-century railway investments. The infrastructure is designed to support future technologies, including 5G, which will further enhance connectivity and service delivery. Investing in robust broadband infrastructure ensures that the Isle of Wight is prepared for future technological advancements. This futureproofing is essential for creating infrastructure that allows for long-term sustainability and growth for the island

Overall, WightFibre’s Gigabit Island project has profoundly impacted the Isle of Wight, demonstrating substantial benefits and laying the groundwork for future advancements. The Curia report highlights not only the current successes but also offers a roadmap for future initiatives, showcasing how strategic investments in broadband can bring lasting and meaningful benefits to the island’s communities. WightFibre’s customers and the broader Isle of Wight community stand to gain considerably from these developments, ensuring a more prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable future.