Telco rivals dispute progress on speed of fibre roll-out

THE island’s two largest telcos are in dispute about the progress being made over the roll-out of fibre in the island.

A final connection being made to a fibre cable. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 31532019)
A final connection being made to a fibre cable. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 31532019)

Almost a year to the day since Sure started its pilot scheme for the roll-out, CEO Justin Bellinger offered an update on the project at an Institute of Directors’ breakfast event yesterday. He said it was ahead of schedule, and by the end of 2022, a quarter of local homes will have access to fibre.

Mr Bellinger said that currently about 100 homes were being connected each week, which will ‘ramp up’ from May 2023 to around 700 per month, with 50% of homes having access by the end of next year.

But JT Group CEO Daragh McDermott, who was also on the panel, cautioned against the figures in the update and said that more transparency was needed. The key number, he said, was connections made.

He said it was no use to the island if fibre was being laid in the road, but homes were not being connected to it.

‘The greater good for Guernsey is for everyone to be connected,’ he said. ‘This is the future.’

Having rolled out fibre in Jersey, with the support of the island’s government, Mr McDermott said that JT had learned through experience.

‘It was important to get everything right at our end before going to the customer,’ he said. He also warned Sure that it did not have the luxury of time that it may have thought it had, saying that it can be difficult to get in touch with every household.

The biggest challenge, said Mr Bellinger, was rolling out fibre to 30,000 homes and businesses in a ‘ubiquitous and equitable way’.

‘It’s not a trivial programme,’ he said.

‘It’s not just an engineering project, we have got to get people moved across.

‘We’re pleased with the way that our business and that of our local partners has scaled during the first year of the project, and are confident that this momentum will be maintained throughout the rest of the programme.’

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