Confusion over the schedule for fibre rollout

THE rollout of Guernsey’s fast fibre broadband appears to have been the subject of a breakdown in communications between the network provider, the island’s senior politicians and the public.

Deputy Heidi Soulsby and Deputy Peter Ferbrache at this week’s Scrutiny management committee hearing. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30383371)
Deputy Heidi Soulsby and Deputy Peter Ferbrache at this week’s Scrutiny management committee hearing. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30383371)

Sure, the company behind the £37.5m. programme, is not publishing details of who will get connected when, but the president and vice-president of Policy & Resources seem to have been under the impression that these details were not only published but very widely publicised.

The anomaly became apparent yesterday when Sure was approached by the Guernsey Press to provide a link to the schedule, after Deputies Peter Ferbrache and Heidi Soulsby had assured Deputy Adrian Gabriel that all the information was in the public domain.

The exchange occurred during the Scrutiny Management Committee hearing on Tuesday, where Government Work Plan progress was scrutinised.

‘Will a plan be published soon, so that all islanders can understand where they stand in the five-year rollout of the fibre broadband upgrade?’ asked Deputy Gabriel, who sits on the GWP sub-committee of Scrutiny Management.

‘I thought it had been published,’ Deputy Ferbrache responded.

‘I thought there were details, when the proposals were brought to the States about which areas would be done and when, and I’ve not seen any variations to that.

‘But we can certainly ask Sure – because, you know, people forget or they may not have read it – we can certainly ask Sure to republicise that or to make it clear. The idea is that if you’re in the Castel it will be a certain time, if you’re in St Peter Port it will be a certain time. That’s all been well published.’

Deputy Soulsby concurred.

‘I think it’s fantastic. I’ve met people who couldn’t quite believe that that’s what we’re doing,’ she said, referring to the connection of every home to the high speed network. ‘It’s a good news story. Perhaps that’s why we haven’t heard very much.’

The States and Sure jointly announced the project in September. Work began in October and is expected to finish in 2026, leading to internet speeds up to 50 times faster than some users currently experience. Sure’s Guernsey chief executive Justin Bellinger said it was still in the pilot phase of the rollout, working in pockets around the island.

He was optimistic of hitting the target of more than 7,000 properties connected by the end of 2022, completing the project by the end of 2026. But he did not state who would get connected when.

‘Sure as the wholesale network provider will contact each broadband provider as soon as a connection becomes available for each household, and broadband providers will get in touch with customers directly.’

Deputy Gabriel said yesterday that he agreed with Deputy Soulsby’s assessment that the rollout was a good news story. ‘I asked the question because I wanted to build on that, so the public know where they are, especially in relation to future planning around roadwork disruption,’ he said.

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