Jersey’s state-owned operator JT has connected 70 per cent of the properties on the island with fibre to the home (FTTH), according to an update issued this week.
JT’s fibre-optic broadband project – known as Gigabit Jersey – is interesting because it is one of the few programmes in the world where the operator plans to completely replace its copper network with fibre optics.
The project was split into three phases: installing the main computer system at the heart of the new network; running fibre-optic cabling within easy reach of every broadband customer in Jersey; and then connecting customers directly to the new network. The first two phases are complete, with the third just reaching the 70 per cent mark.
As a result, the island has leapt to third place in the world in terms of the percentage of broadband customers directly connected to the internet with fibre-optic cables, the operator claims.
For comparison, in November 2016, the UK government lamented the fact that less than 2 per cent of UK properties have what they described as the ‘gold standard’ of direct-to-the-home fibre broadband connections (see Policy shift puts the UK on a full fibre diet).
The island state of Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, but nevertheless is one of the smallest territories in Europe. The five-year project was originally expected to be complete by the end of 2016, but is a little behind its original schedule (see The rise of gigabit broadband in Europe).
JT indirectly blamed the fact that the number of properties on the island has increased by 10 per cent, or 3,000, since the project started. The operator expects to have connected more than 37,000 properties with fibre by the time the project is complete.
The operator says 2016 was its best year yet for connections, with its engineering teams completing more than 8,000 – for a total of 24,000. Commenting on the announcement, JT’s director of corporate affairs Daragh McDermott, said: “We are really proud of the Gigabit team for what they have achieved in 2016. It’s been our best year yet in terms of the number of properties connected to fibre, and sets us up well for 2017. In effect, we are replacing the island’s entire broadband network, and are planning to do it more quickly than has been done anywhere else in the world. Such a large and complex civil infrastructure project takes time, but once it is done, it will serve the island well for decades to come.”
In related news, JT reports that all three of the undersea cables, damaged by a ship dragging its anchor, were repaired in December (see Ship's anchor cuts three submarine cables to Jersey).