Residents and businesses are being encouraged to show their support for moves to provide the whole Island with super-fast broadband.
The Isle of Wight Council has announced further investment of £3 million, matched by Government funding, to bring the technology to more of the more rural areas of the Island that will not be affected by BT’s recent announcement to supply superfast broadband to the towns of Cowes, Newport, Ryde and Ventnor.
However to ensure the matched funding, the Island needs to demonstrate its demand for superfast broadband.
The council, in conjunction with Natural Enterprise, an organisation that promotes economic and environmental projects in rural areas,has set up a page on its web site for businesses and the general public to register this demand which will be used as evidence to support the drawdown of central government funding.
Isle of Wight Council Leader Councillor David Pugh said: "The recent announcement by BT is great news if you live or work in Ryde, Newport, Cowes or Ventnor. However one of key aims to help the Island’s economy has always been to ensure as many people and places benefit from faster broadband speeds as possible, wherever they are on the Island.
“To achieve this however the public does need to demonstrate its support for what will be comprehensive Islandwide superfast broadband coverage and I urge everyone to do so via the website.
A successful £6 million investment would lead to coverage for at least 90 percent of the Island but the council is also keen to see even the most remote rural areas connected and to this end, Natural Enterprise is seeking still further investment under the Rural Community Broadband Fund.
Brian Friend, Chair of Natural Enterprise said: “We see rural broadband as the single most important economic enabler for the Island in support of both the Council’s Plans and our Yarmouth Broadband initiative, which goes live in April, and we are keen to be able to offer faster broadband to more and more rural communities. However we can only achieve this if we can demonstrate strong demand and in order to make a competitive case why the island merits this investment.”
Cllr Brown added: “Already we are heartened that the superfast broadband proposals have been enthusiastically welcomed by the Island’s Federation of Small Businesses and Chamber of Commerce. However we want everyone, whether a business or resident, who wants improved broadband to register their support. This is a unique opportunity for the Island and it is one we hope the whole Island embraces.”
As well as registering support online, those without an Internet connection can also register their interest by phoning 823653, where you can also request a paper copy of the business or resident broadband survey.