Wildanet praise for huge team effort as gigabit broadband milestone hit in Cornwall

Wildanet’s £36 million publicly funded roll-out of gigabit-capable Full Fibre broadband in rural Cornwall is rapidly gathering pace, with more than 3,500 homes now connected.

Wildanet’s £36 million publicly funded roll-out of gigabit-capable Full Fibre broadband in rural Cornwall is rapidly gathering pace, with more than 3,500 homes now connected.

The milestone marks the success of a huge team effort, led by Wildanet and involving a partnership with mostly locally-based contractors, engineers and technical consultants who are designing, installing and commissioning the new network in some of the county’s most remote and hard-to-reach areas.

In 2023, Wildanet was awarded two contracts, totalling £36 million, by the UK government to connect up to 19,250 homes and businesses in South West and Mid Cornwall. This was followed in April 2024 by a further investment by the UK government, which saw Wildanet awarded a £41 million contract to roll out new connections to a further 16,800 homes and businesses in East Cornwall, West Cornwall and the island of St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly.

Work to date under the first two contracts has now seen 3,500 connections go live across nine separate build areas in South West and Mid Cornwall, transforming connectivity for homes and businesses.

This has required:

  • More than 230km of fibre-optic cable to be laid
  • 120km of physical infrastructure installation and civil engineering work
  • A total of 950 new chambers constructed.

It means Wildanet is on schedule to make the service available to more than 6,000 homes and businesses by the end of 2024.

Helen Wylde-Archibald, Wildanet CEO, paid tribute to the Wildanet team and its trusted supply chain for their achievements and the difference they are making to communities right across Cornwall.

She said: “Wildanet was founded with a mission to bridge the digital divide and to unlock the social and economic opportunities which fast, reliable internet can deliver. It’s a huge challenge and one which we could not achieve without the partnership and support of a wide range of businesses across Cornwall, Devon and beyond who share our passion, values and commitment to extending digital inclusion into the areas in which we work. I would like to give special mention to our Build Partners and key suppliers who have been instrumental in the roll-out of Wildanet’s Full Fibre network. The strong partnerships we have created with each one of our build partners has enabled us to achieve this milestone and to continue building the network at pace.

“The progress to date has been fantastic as together we have tackled a network build in areas which have previously proved too hard for the major telecoms operators and in the face of some of the most challenging winter and spring weather any of us can remember. To each and every one of our team and to our suppliers and contractors, I say ‘thank you’.

“We now look forward to continuing the close working relationships we have developed, the mutual trust and support which makes this such a special team effort, as we move forward together to complete the build over the next 18 months.”

Perhaps the most visible suppliers working with Wildanet are its trusted cohort of build partners, responsible for installing hundreds of kilometres of the physical infrastructure which is the backbone of the network. This includes CGS, L Traffic, RBS Groundworks, MMB, Dynamic Fibre, Oakway, CTS and SGC.

Dynamic Fibre and Oakway are two such build partners who have been instrumental in supporting Wildanet with installing the new digital infrastructure.

John McGrath, UK Operations Director of Dynamic Fibre said: “The partnership we have built with Wildanet has been one that is both collaborative and constructive. It’s a really enjoyable experience to now see the hard work pay off and to be able to provide the good residents of Cornwall with access to the connectivity they deserve for the 21st century.

“We look forward to continuing our solid relationship with Wildanet and further building on the cornerstones of our relationship in expanding an already excellent network”.

Speaking on the partnership with Wildanet, John McNeela, from Oakway, said: "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Wildanet on the installation of gigabit-capable broadband across Cornwall. This project marks one of the most significant upgrades to digital infrastructure in a generation, ensuring that communities throughout Cornwall gain access to fast, reliable broadband for many years to come.

“As a family-run business based in Launceston with 30 years’ experience in the civil engineering sector, this project was a very natural fit for Oakway and we’re delighted to be playing an active part in helping to enhance connectivity and driving forward technological advancement in the region."

Wildanet has also developed a highly-valued supply chain of specialist suppliers and partnered with telecoms infrastructure specialists Altnets who have been instrumental in providing the fibre cabling and wide range of essential technical equipment needed for a build of this complexity.

Commenting on the partnership with Wildanet, Sam Bangle (co-founder of Altnets) said: “We are delighted to have been able to support Wildanet to achieve the incredible milestone of connecting 3,500 homes – a huge well done to the whole team! The growth and success is an incredible journey to see. Altnets’ specialists were on hand throughout the procurement and build process to ensure the ideal product solutions with superior quality are supplied to Wildanet.

“One of the biggest aims of our business is to work with companies who share the same values and ethos as us and it is extremely refreshing to see the positive impact Wildanet are having on the community. We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Wildanet as they build towards the next milestone.”

And behind the scenes there are companies like VIAVI Solutions, whose international expertise and industry leading products are at the heart of the successful network deployment and its performance; allowing remote testing, monitoring, reporting and quality assurance crucial to Wildanet.

Mike Fisher, Global Key Account Manager for VIAVI, who has been instrumental in supporting Wildanet with the deployment of the ONMSi remote fibre test system across the Wildanet network, said: “Wildanet’s team have been great to work with and spent time to ensure our system is well adopted and integrated into their processes. They are passionate about optimising deployment efficiency and ensuring the quality of the network is maximised so they can deliver the best customer experience.”

In addition to driving significant economic activity and employment through its commitment to using local businesses in its supply chain, Wildanet has become a major regional employer in its own right, more than doubling its workforce in the last 18 months to over 220 staff.

In 2023, Wildanet launched a new centre of excellence in Cornwall – the Wildanet Technical Training Academy – providing industry-leading training for the next generation of telecommunication engineers and supporting the roll-out of high-speed broadband to thousands of people living and working in the region. The initiative, together with a ground-breaking new apprenticeship programme with Truro and Penwith College is a key commitment to delivering the delivery of Wildanet’s Full Fibre broadband network across Cornwall and Devon.

And in January 2024, Wildanet became the first UK AltNet (Alternative Network Provider) to become a Certified B Corporation, recognising its commitment to operating as a force for good, prioritising sustainability, ethical practices and social responsibility as part of its successful ‘profit with purpose’ approach to business.

Thanks to the co-ordinated efforts of all Wildanet’s trusted partners, more and more communities across Cornwall are now benefitting from access to fast, reliable broadband than ever before. Ellen Morris lives in the village of Lanivet, and says the new broadband service provided by Wildanet has been transformational for her and her family.

Commenting on the new Full Fibre broadband service, she said: “We were getting a 30 to 40Mbps service previously over copper wires but with Wildanet’s Full Fibre we’re now getting speeds of about 200Mbps. More than that, the new service is more reliable and also offers complete coverage within our home, whereas previously we were pretty much limited to the front room for good internet.

“It means we can use laptops, smart TV and streaming services in all parts of the house; we don’t have to worry about how many devices are connected either, it copes with it all brilliantly. And we are looking forward to being able to get coverage out into the garden in the summer.

“My partner is self-employed and has to file regular returns with HMRC, including uploading documents and receipts to the HMRC website. Uploads could take up to 15 minutes with our old service but are now completed in seconds and the stability of the service makes completing online forms and filing this information much easier.

“It’s made a huge difference for us. My father and uncle live in the same village and have also signed up for the service and a number of our friends and neighbours are also making the switch.”

Watch Ellen’s story in full here: https://youtu.be/TfBwmDrovsU?si=YbGTjA6DxL7aZoRk

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