On 29 March 2001 the States of Guernsey approved a new model for the privatisation of Guernsey Telecoms. The licensing of the state owned company had been proposed in 2000 but no major Telecoms company made a serious approach. Now an equity partner with a controlling stake was being sought in order to expand the company and take it away from the limitations of public control. The States re-affirmed that the sale of a majority shareholding in GT was being done to attract a world class telecoms player, rather than a way to raise cash.
The equity partner turned out to be Cable & Wireless, and a deal was finalised in mid-2002, with Guernsey Telecom officially rebranded with a Cable and Wireless label in October 2002. Guernsey must have hoped that Cable and Wireless will be more forward-looking in the Bailiwick than it has been in many other offshore jurisdictions, where it has jealously protected its monopoly to the disbenefit of e-commerce development.
In August 2005, Cable & Wireless Guernsey announced that is was doubling the speed of its broadband packages for home and business users from 512kbps to 1 megabit per second at no extra cost. It meant that local broadband users could get a 1Mbs broadband connection for GBP26.99 per month, which was 40% cheaper than in Jersey and nearly half the price of Isle of Man. It also allowed unlimited downloads, which compares favourably with similar packages from UK ISPs.
In October 2005, Cable & Wireless unveiled a plan to develop a state of the art telecommunications infrastructure that will ensure the island benefits from the latest technology and services in the future with a GBP6.5 million project to install two new fibre optic links connecting the island to Cable and Wireless's global network. In an address to local politicians and business leaders, Lord Robertson, deputy chairman of Cable & Wireless and a former UK cabinet minister and secretary general of NATO, said it would put the island on a par with major cities and leading international financial centres across the world.
"Guernsey will become a world-class telecommunications hub, with secure, high performance global connections that are capable of supporting the highest quality services. As well as providing for the future needs of islanders and businesses, it will attract new investment and much-needed diversification, as companies look to locate operations here and take advantage of the island's world-class links," he said.
The new connections will give the island's financial services and business sectors direct access to the global Cable & Wireless's telecommunications network, which already links many major cities and international financial centres across the world. These include London, Hong Kong, New York, Sydney, Tokyo and Paris.
The broadband speed was upgraded to 2 megabit per second in 2008 and from May 2010, speeds were upgraded to a maximum of 8 megabit per second. This was coupled with a wholesale price decrease of 34%. By September 2011, speeds were upgraded to a maximum of 16 megabit per second.
‘The uplifts in speed are part of a major ongoing project from Cable & Wireless Guernsey to deliver faster broadband speeds to the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Customers are demanding increased speeds and we are investing heavily in the infrastructure to meet that demand as part of our commitment to the islands,’ said Sure’s chief executive Eddie Saints.
Newtel Solutions is an alternative telecommunications carrier offering a range of voice, data and video services in Jersey and Guernsey. The Group has been in operation since 1988 and was awarded a Public Telecommunications Operators licence in Guernsey in November 2002 and in Jersey in January 2003.
Wave Telecom, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Jersey Telecom Group, has also been granted licences by the Office of Utility Regulation to operate fixed and mobile telecommunications services to, from and within the Bailiwick of Guernsey. By the end of 2006, the company claimed to have captured 20% of the Guernsey mobile market from its rival, Cable & Wireless Guernsey. Wave also competes in a number of business-to-business markets and has grown its offering in private circuits and IP services.
The company has continued its investment in future technology by connecting on-island networks to the world and in 2007 was due to deliver Project Liberty, a GBP6m high capacity fibre optic cable linking the JT Group network to the UK, via Guernsey.
As part of Project Liberty, Wave provides direct fibre cable access to key corporate customers with a view to supplying enhanced services. Wave said in 2007 that it was also investing in core infrastructure, as the company moved forward with its plans to install a Next Generation Network (NGN), which will give it a platform from which it can deliver ultra high speed broadband to the home, Super 3G mobile services and mobile TV.
In August, 2009, it was announced that Wave had struck a deal to acquire Newtel Guernsey. The deal required approval by Jersey's competition commission and control of Newtel was officially handed over to Wave on December 30, 2009.
A major part of the deal was the inclusion of Newtel’s data hosting centre in St Peter Port. The deal confirmed JT Group as the largest provider in the Channel Islands. Ultra high-speed fibre optic cables link all centres to the telecoms network.
Tim Ringsdore, Managing Director of both Jersey Telecom and Wave Telecom, said: “This deal makes excellent strategic sense as it allows us to combine Wave’s market leading mobile services with Newtel’s strong position in the residential broadband and business services markets. It is great news for Guernsey customers as we will be able to combine the best elements of all services and offer even greater value for money.”