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Isle of Wight and Hampshire get broadband boost from £25m Virgin deal

Friday, March 13th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

A deal between Virgin and a local authority partnership to bring improved connectivity in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight has been extended for another four years.

The partnership between Virgin Media Business and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership (HIOWP) has already benefited 2,000 sites including 600 schools.

And a £25m contract extension will see the deal run for a further four years, Virgin has announced.

Virgin has already worked with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership as part of a £90m six-year contract known as Hampshire Public Service Network 2 (HPSN2), which delivers secure connectivity to thousands of public sector staff.

Over 97% of Hampshire schools are now connected to the network, and 80% of all public sector services.

As well as helping staff to deliver the curriculum to thousands of schoolchildren, it has provided new ways of accessing information for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, whose firefighters use portable touch-screen devices to find the closest hydrants and assess risks while en-route to an emergency.

HPSN2, which saves Hampshire County Council more than £1m a year, covers all aspects of telecommunications including wide area networking (WAN), fixed and mobile telephony, internet services, local area networking (LAN) and video conferencing.

It allows greater collaboration between the regions’ public service providers so information can easily be shared between local authorities, health providers and emergency services.

Thanks to the latest extension, the partnership will continue, providing long-term benefits including creative solutions to connectivity problems and continued development.

'Best use of the technology'

Gerry Arthurs, public sector director at Virgin Media Business, said: “It’s important the public sector ensure they have the right technology and infrastructure in place to fulfil their needs now and into the future.

“Improving services in the two counties is having a direct effect on how people are living their lives and we’re delighted to continue to work the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Partnership to achieve true connectivity for their citizens.”

Jane Stedman, support, quality and security manager at Hampshire County Council, added: “Now more than ever, we need to ensure that we make the best use of the technology available to reduce costs and sustain quality services.

“Working in partnership with Virgin Media Business, we will continue to meet future challenges for improving services, while maximising efficiencies and savings.”

The HIOWP, which was set up in 2008, includes 19 organisations, including 15 local authorities from across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, health partners, voluntary sector partners, and the New Forest National Park Authority.

Residents in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have benefited from the rollout of superfast broadband.

The Isle of Wight’s multi-million pound rural broadband project, expected to be completed this autumn, will enabled around 20,000 rural premises to access high-speed broadband.

Adding to the 49,000 premises in the island’s urban areas that have already benefited from fibre broadband as part of BT’s commercial investment, it means 95% of island premises will have access to fibre.

In October Hampshire County Council unveiled the fourth phase of its superfast broadband rollout with a further 10,500 rural properties set to benefit.

The partnership between BT and the county’s local authorities is aiming to bring fibre optic broadband within reach of at least 95% of premises by the end of 2017.

Announcing phase four in October, Hampshire County Council leader Roy Perry said around 59,000 homes were due to be upgraded by the end of 2015.

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