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Gigabit Jersey project to finish this summer

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JERSEY is on track to become the first island in the world to see every home and business connected to a high-speed fibre broadband network.

Gigabit Jersey has been a six-year project

JT has confirmed it expects to hit the target this summer, marking the end of a six-year project called Gigabit Jersey which has seen engineers use more than 2,000 miles of fibre-optic cable to link up more than 40,000 properties.

It will also coincide with an increase in broadband speeds, making Jersey’s the fastest in the world ahead of current leaders Singapore.

The news comes as the States-owned telecom firm reveals a 41 per cent increase in turnover in 2017, up from £185m to £261m. The vast majority of that revenue comes from JT’s international business which sees 1.6 million mobile devices globally connected to its network.

As well as mobile phones, the provider now powers heart monitors, payment systems, solar farms and traffic lights.

JT chairman Phil Male said: ‘Since I joined the JT board as a non-executive director seven years ago, it has been immensely satisfying to see the company evolve from a locally-focused telecoms operator into a global business. We are also enabling a number of world-first innovations in Jersey. Due to the Island’s manageable size, existing mast network and diversity of terrain, we are fast becoming an ideal sandbox for innovation.’

The company’s operating profit last year was broadly static at £11.1m, with the biggest single cost being the ongoing roll out of fibre broadband in Jersey. It also returned a dividend of £4.7m to its shareholder, the States of Jersey, and paid £2m in income tax locally.

JT’s chief executive officer Graeme Millar took home a total package of pay and bonuses of £363,000 in 2017, an increase of £17,000 on the previous year. The second biggest earner, chief financial officer John Kent, pocketed £275,000, up £15,000 on 2016.

In total, JT’s wage bill added up to £35.4m, an increase of £2.4m in a year. The company employs more than 600 staff across 11 jurisdictions and now has 2,200 business customers around the world.

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Mr Millar said: ‘2017 was a year of strong growth for the JT Group, particularly for our International division, whose success helps to support our activities here in the Channel Islands. Significant investment in our Channel Island networks has made the Islands one of the best-connected places in the world.

‘I’m really looking forward to seeing our customers using those networks both at work and at home, to really make the most of the digital opportunities which are available.’

Last year, the then Treasury Minister Senator Alan Maclean confirmed he was considering selling off JT, arguing it could boost States coffers by up to £400m. Meanwhile, a proposal by Senator Sarah Ferguson for JT’s infrastructure and retail business to be split into two, with the retail side being privatised, failed.

Richard Heath

By Richard Heath
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