The installation of the first cabinets for the Isle of Wight’s multi-million pound rural superfast fibre broadband project is now underway.

More than 380 homes and businesses in parts of Shorwell and Shalfleet will be the first to benefit under phase one of the major infrastructure project, a partnership between the Isle of Wight Council, BT and the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

The first customers will be able to place orders for high speed broadband this summer.

Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “This fantastic news marks the next stage of a remarkable transformation of broadband on the Isle of Wight, with an estimated 20,000 homes and businesses on the Island to gain access to superfast speeds by autumn next year.

“We understand how important access to superfast broadband is - the UK already does more business online than any other European country, and the widespread access to superfast broadband that this scheme will deliver will provide a tremendous boost to the Isle of Wight’s economy.”

The installation programme follows the recent delivery of the cabinets to BT’s Ryde depot.

Once cabinets have been put in place they will then be connected to power sources and the fibre network.

As part of the contract, BT has been working closely with Island Roads in planning the installation works.

Also among the first communities to benefit from the programme this summer are parts of Gurnard, Whippingham, Brighstone and Merstone.

Altogether, more than 120 new pieces of equipment are due to be installed during the project.

The new fibre-based network is open to all broadband internet service providers on an equal basis, so customers – both domestic and business - will have access to a wide choice of broadband providers.

Once completed in autumn 2015, the overall project will have enabled around 20,000 premises in the largely rural parts of the Island to access high speed broadband - making the Island one of the best connected areas in the UK.