Guernsey’s broadband connectivity and speed has been thrown into sharp relief recently, appearing on a global league table in 48th place based on average internet download speeds, only one place behind the UK but languishing far behind Jersey who are in second place. Our 48th place represents our average download speed – high speeds which match Jersey are available, although at a cost.
There is good news however; if one looks at the figures for the % of households actually connected to the Internet, Guernsey comes out on top globally with over 98% of households connected, which is something to be proud of
A question frequently asked is how come Jersey are second and we are 48th? The answer in part is that Jersey government decided to invest north of £50m in their fibre infrastructure. This resulted in Jersey realising the benefits of fibre much earlier than Guernsey will. Would it have been money well spent if Guernsey had followed suit? Quite possibly, although the situations are different – Jersey still own Jersey Telecoms so they are investing in their own trading entity themselves whereas Guernsey does not and investing in private companies is more complex, although by no means insurmountable.
Currently an upgrade of the island’s fibre infrastructure for all islanders is underway; a project to concertina the timeframe with additional investment would bring two benefits. Firstly such a project would bring a much needed boost to local jobs as our economy recovers – as long the additional contractors employed for the work were drawn from local labour resulting in more money circulating through the economy. Secondly, although faster internet speeds have a slight positive impact on GDP levels, the sort of internet speeds available through fibre leads to a quantum leap in processing power enabling better home working (potentially also increasing the employment opportunities for some), increased productivity and opportunities for tech companies relying on high bandwidth and excellent connectivity.
This is just the sort of opportunity Guernsey will be looking for in Revive and Thrive – Boost the economy and build back better.
What government should do is put forward a coherent long term telecommunications strategy giving all telecoms companies a clear direction enabling them to engage in medium to long term strategic planning with a degree of confidence which has been sometimes lacking.