Justin Bellinger, Sure Guernsey Chief Executive reflects on 2021 and discusses Sure's exciting plans for 2022 and onwards.
Though perhaps not as strange as its predecessor, the COVID-19 pandemic will see 2021 go down as an unconventional year. Yet, for Sure it represented one of our busiest and most successful years yet, marking huge anniversaries, major charity partnerships, and the beginnings of the complete renovation of Guernsey’s broadband service.
Yes, the headline this year was the genesis of our island-wide fibre to the premises (FTTP) roll out – known as Guernsey Fibre. We will be investing £37.5m into the future implementation of full-fibre broadband, ensuring that islanders can experience high-speed network connections, wherever they are. The scope and speed of the roll out has been assured thanks to the support of the States of Guernsey, who unanimously voted in favour of supporting the project and committed to contribute £12.5m of the total investment.
Guernsey Fibre is going to bring faster speeds to all 30,000 households across the island and will support islanders’ increasingly digital lifestyles. That means seamless working and learning from home and access to high-quality UHD entertainment and gaming. Crucially, it also demonstrates Guernsey’s ability to compete in the digital age on an international scale. We’re confident it will help our island home stand out as an adopter of new technologies and a pioneer of new ways of working.
Fibre to the premises was just one exciting milestone for Sure. 2021 also saw us celebrate 125 years of Guernsey’s telephone network with an exhibition chronicling the history of the service on the island. The exhibition, titled ‘Ring Please: 125 Years of Connecting People’, was a huge success and a fitting testament to our dedication to connecting the island, which remains stronger than ever.
As you know, the pandemic brought with it a host of challenges and the beginning of 2021 was no exception. January brought an island-wide lockdown, the second our island has had to contend with. The difficulties faced were plentiful, but we did our best to make life that little bit less stressful by making calls to the States’ COVID helpline free for all Sure customers, providing free landline calls for Piper Lifeline users, and helping individual customers who found themselves in tricky circumstances. Significantly, the Sure Community Foundation supplied devices and connectivity to some students who didn’t have those things at home and needed them to continue their studies.
As you’ll see, our Sure Community Foundation was instrumental in funding several charitable ventures that undoubtedly helped forge new connections, partnerships, and an overall stronger sense of community. Indeed, it’s a precursor for things to come in 2023 (which may seem a way off but trust me – it will sneak up!) when Sure will be the technology partner for the Natwest Island Games, which will be held here in Guernsey. This partnership is emblematic of what Sure does for the community. Sport binds the island together and we’re thrilled to help the games run smoothly from behind the scenes.
The Sure Community Foundation once again proved vital in helping several good causes across the Bailiwick. Some specific achievements that I’m particularly proud of include the charity’s sponsorship of the Ron Short Centre, which saw it provide some of the centre’s disabled members the facilities needed to carry out meaningful day-to-day work. The Foundation also supported Guernsey Community Savings by supplying the charity with essential landline, broadband, and mobile services. The GCS is vital for helping financially excluded islanders access basic financial services. The Sure Community Foundation continues to support local good causes and all the work that the voluntary committee continue to put in is a huge source of pride for everyone at Sure.
Though it hasn’t been without its challenges, I’m immensely proud of everything we’ve managed to achieve this year. Next year we’re excited to extend the roll out of Guernsey Fibre as we head towards our goal of connecting every property on the island by 2026. For now, I’d like to thank every member of our fantastic team, connecting the island would be impossible without you. And to our customers, thank you for supporting Sure through an unprecedented year and we look forward to seeing you in 2022, connected and ready to make our island better, together.
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