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Fibre rollout could be delayed by planning issues

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Manx Telecom says rejection of plans to install poles for fibre broadband cables above ground could delay national rollout plan

Report from BBC Isle of Man.

Manx Telecom says the rollout of fibre could be delayed by planning issues.

The company says the rejection of any plans to install poles to accommodate fibre broadband cables above ground could lead to delays to the national rollout plan. 

Under the government's strategy, the firm has the contract to make high speed internet access available in rural areas considered "commercially unviable".

The planning committee this week approved an application for wooden poles for Riverbank Road in Ramsey but rejected one for Thornhill Park in the town.

The firm's chief technology officer Hugo van Zyl said while the project was "going very well", achieving the August completion date for the areas in the national strategy would depend on planning permission.

A total of 12 planning applications for poles have been submitted, nine of which are awaiting a decision, two have been approved and one rejected.

Mr van Zyl said while 95% of the programme had been fulfilled, the remaining areas were more reliant on the installation of new infrastructure to service those homes.

During this week's planning committee hearing, planning committee member Matthew Warren, said although he did not want to "deprive" the island of broadband, "more problems" would arise from "putting up poles for everything".

Several members of the committee also voiced a preference for the infrastructure being underground.

Mr van Zyl said that Manx Telecom had tried to make use of existing poles and underground ducts, but for the remaining areas of the programme, the infrastructure did not exist.

While underground ducts were considered "it was not practically possible" to install everything that way, partly due to disruption gas pipes and watermains, and a cost that would be up to five times more, he said.

Rejected plans for poles would therefore lead to delays in connecting those areas as other mechanisms to provide the services would need to be considered, he added.

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