‘Disruption, but not all roads will be dug up’

DISRUPTION from the roll-out of a new fibre broadband network will be kept to a minimum – and will not need every road in Guernsey to be dug up.

Alistair Beak, group chief executive officer of telco Sure, made the pledge during an interview on the latest Guernsey Press Business Podcast as he set out multiple benefits of the proposed £37.5m. network.

Under the scheme, the network would reach every property in Guernsey and be completed by 2026. Sure will undertake the work supported by a capped investment of up to £12.5m. by the States – subject to approval from deputies.

Describing it as important to Guernsey in the 21st century as the development of St Peter Port harbour was in the past, Mr Beak said the network would be transformative. It would directly benefit economic growth and ‘future-proof’ the island’s digital infrastructure to cope with changing demands in the years ahead, he said.

Estimates have been put at up to 1.1% of GDP as a result of faster broadband, improving productivity and activity. Some 75 jobs will also be created to build the network – about half within Sure and the rest with local contractors and suppliers.

Some £30m. of the project will also be spent with local firms.

Asked about the potential for disruption, Mr Beak said it would be kept to the minimum with coordination with other utility providers and the community kept informed throughout.

‘There is going to be a certain amount of disruption because that’s inevitable when you’re putting in a cabled network of this kind of scale, as in a new piece of cable is going to need to be fed to every single home,’ he said.

But it was not right, he said, to characterise or think of it ‘as having to dig up every single road in Guernsey in order to achieve that. That’s not the case actually’.

‘We will work very closely with the States and particularly with other utilities providers, as we do today, to ensure that we are not digging up the road one day and then they are digging up the road six months later. We’ll be coordinated in that fashion. Is there going to be some road closures? Of course there is. Is it going to be disruptive? To an extent yes it will.’

Mr Beak added community liaison officers would be employed to go out and communicate very clearly what was going to happen, when it was going to happen and what people could expect.

‘So that everyone’s in the know about what’s going on,’ he said.

‘Keeping the community on side, if you like, is a really important aspect to this.’

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