The Channel Island of Jersey is looking at investing some £41.5m in rolling out fibre to the home across the island. Senator Philip Ozouf has said that as Treasury Minister they want to use public to set up the new gigabit network to attract new businesses to Jersey.
Jersey Telecom has been upgrading its core network, and has a previously announced program to upgrade its copper local loop, but investment of £41.5m will see full Fibre to the Home being deployed to all homes, a smaller investment of £21m would only allow a fibre to the cabinet deployment.
Jersey Telecom is in a good position to roll-out fibre, since in the 1980's following widespread storm damage it laid ducting across the island up to every home, and this allows for easier blowing of fibre in tubes. There will of course still be a small amount of roadworks to clear blocked ducts etc, and installing the fibre in each home will be more intrusive, the benefit here being that this fibre should suffice for connectivity for some 20 to 30 years. The most immediate benefit for consumers and businesses is the reliability brought by a fibre connection, since it is immune to RF noise (which can still affect FTTC). Additionally access speeds will be equal for all homes, thus removing the worry over what speeds people will get at a property.
With ubiquitous access and a tax and investment strategy that is looking at attract digital businesses to the island, Jersey may see itself as a technology testbed for new services. Businesses will know that staff can have good connections to data centres from where ever they are based on the island, and the existing fibre links to the UK and Europe ensures firms are in a good position to offer digital content across Europe and the world.
While Jersey is not part of the UK, much of the reasoning about why a full fibre deployment is beneficial does apply. The differences are mainly one of scale, and that Jersey Telecom is state owned, and crucially the distances involved are small compared to the average UK County.
Interestingly looking at the current ADSL2+ packages offered on the island, the price is well above what most people in the UK are used to, with an up to 20 Mbps (40 GB allowance) package costing £49.99 a month, and various packages down to an up to 2 Mbps service with a 10 GB monthly usage allowance. Unlimited business packages are available for those willing to pay more, generally double the price of residential packages. No pricing information is available for the fibre service, but given there has been talk of removing the copper totally, we would expect a similar tiered range of speeds and allowances, with the 100 Mbps and Gigabit speeds commanding a premium.