THE Island's broadband network has received a huge boost with the news Wightfibre is to receive additional £50 million in funding from NatWest Bank.

On the same day Wightfibre said it has hit a landmark of 20,000 houses ready for service on the Gigabit Island full-fibre network project, it announced the funding boost which it says will see the project to completion.

NatWest's capital will be supported by equity funding from Infracapital, part of M&G Investments.

Wightfibre said currently, 28 per cent of premises on the Island have access to full-fibre broadband.

Isle of Wight County Press:

WightFibre aims to roll out fibre to all towns and villages on the Isle of Wight by the end of 2022, covering 80 per cent of premises.

A rolling programme up to the end of 2025 will also cover the more rural areas of the island and fill gaps in urban coverage areas, connecting 96 per cent of premises by the end of that year.

WightFibre’s full-fibre broadband network will provide speeds of up to 1Gb (1,000Mb) or faster to up to 70,000 homes and businesses across the island, creating the UK’s first Gigabit Island.

Isle of Wight County Press:

John Irvine, Wightfibre CEO. Picture by Roger Lowe

WightFibre’s chief executive officer, John Irvine, said: “WightFibre has made great progress in building the UK’s first Gigabit Island on the Isle of Wight, having already made full-fibre broadband available to nearly 20,000 premises.

"The additional funding announced today will enable us to connect around 96 per cent of premises, making the Isle of Wight one of the most well-connected places in the world.

WightFibre’s point-to-point network design means every home and business on the Island will receive their own their dedicated fibre optic connection."

Bob Seely, Island MP, welcomed the announcement.

He said: “I am delighted to see an Isle of Wight company secure funding at these levels despite us being in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The pandemic has demonstrated, more than ever, how essential good broadband is not just for business but for the home as well.

"WightFibre’s Gigabit Island project will ensure we have even better broadband provision than we currently enjoy."

The Leader of the Isle of Wight Council has also welcomed the news.


Ian Burroughs, relationship director, corporate and commercial, at NatWest, said: "Wightfibre has already shown its commitment to preparing communities and organisations for the future.

“The current coronvirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus how important strong broadband infrastructure is for the UK to do business and NatWest is delighted to support WightFibre as it undertakes activity which will see the Isle of Wight become one of the most technologically ready regions of the country.”

James Harraway, managing director of Infracapital, commented: “We are delighted with the progress that has been made with WightFibre’s Gigabit island project, and we look forward to supporting the project through to completion.”