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Isle of Man plans full-fibre future

October 8, 2018

By Colin Mann

The Isle of Man’s Department for Enterprise has released a National Telecommunications Strategy which will be presented to the island’s legislative body Tynwald later in October 2018.

The strategy, based over six key themes and 22 actions, sets to position the Isle of Man at the forefront of telecoms innovation, with a telecommunications infrastructure that is recognised as being world class.

The six themes include regulatory reform that will further foster competition and investment, securing two new subsea fibre routes to complement the existing five that are already in place. Together with a national broadband plan, this will seek to support the roll-out of fibre to premises Island wide within five years.

“Access to global telecommunication networks are essential for our social and economic prosperity,” declared Howard Quayle MHK, Chief Minister for the Isle of Man. “Government has a key role to play as an enabler, developing policy and strategy which ensures that all our residents and businesses have access to a modern and secure telecommunications infrastructure. This strategy sets us on a path to deliver just that.”

In May 2018 Tynwald unanimously supported the Chief Minister’s Committee report on Telecoms Infrastructure which concluded that Government should lead on a National Telecoms Strategy and deliver a telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future. The published strategy defines strategic outcomes to make that happen with a major emphasis on Government intervention to accelerate the rollout of fibre Island wide.

“Our vision is to be seen at the forefront of telecoms innovation,” added Laurence Skelly MHK, Minister for Enterprise, added. “The Programme for Government highlights our need to be a digital Island, ready for new technologies such as 5G. The delivery of high speed, high quality broadband is a problem being faced by nearly every developed and many developing countries around the world. These networks provide access to entertainment and media services, health services, educational tools and e-government applications and are a strong enabler for economic growth and social inclusion.”

If approved by Tynwald, the Department for Enterprise will begin an open market process to identify a preferred partner to deliver fibre to pass 99 per cent of premises in the Isle of Man. This will allow businesses and households who want fibre services to gain access to ultrafast fibre broadband with speeds of up to 1Gbps. The market process will ensure that any Government support is value for money and balances the need for intervention with the need to ensure any support is in a fair and transparent way, with appropriate safeguards in place to clawback any excess profits.

This strategy is the start of the process with a final proposal to be approved by Treasury, Council and ultimately Tynwald.

The timescale for the role out of the network will aim to be five years and will help elevate the Island’s position in world broadband speed league tables. This island-wide fibre network will deliver fast, reliable telecommunication services and support future rollouts of 5G.

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