An interview with: Guernsey Fibre’s Programme Director Richard Cartland

‘This is what I do in a place that I love” Guernsey Fibre’s Programme Director Richard Cartland shares his story.

Not surprisingly, the five-year plan to install fibre optic broadband to the 30,000-plus properties on Guernsey requires a skilled team to navigate through complexities and a high level of detailed planning. Leading this team is the Programme Director, Richard Cartland.

The role of Programme Director oversees the planning and delivery of this extensive Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) network, making sure the Guernsey Fibre team can complete the project, adhering to budget and timescales. This encompasses a team of 25-plus skilled telecoms professionals and spans many other relationships with technology suppliers and seven other local Guernsey contractors too.

Richard brings with him the experience of delivering broadband networks telecoms companies BT and Virgin Media, and for some of Sky’s large project-based roles where he was tasked to deliver fibre from rural villages to densely populated towns and cities. Guernsey may be smaller but no less diverse a project.

“We have a great team here, the most experienced team I’ve ever worked with, in fact. The combination of our local expertise with my own experience in rolling out fibre technology in the UK, and our mindset of working smartly to a sensible timescale has made the process smooth and successful.”

Richard has a great knowledge of and affinity for Guernsey. He said: “I’ve had a great affection for the island since I first visited in the early ‘80s, and I’ve visited every year since then. I have always kept an eye on what’s happening in Guernsey and so when I saw the job advertised – I thought this is what I do in a place that I know and love – this is for me – and luckily the Programme Director role is a perfect fit and a few weeks later, I moved here to a small place, high up in a cobbled street in St Peter Port.”

So how is it going so far, six months into the pilot phase?

Richard and his team have overseen the process of resourcing the project’s equipment, sourcing some of the latest technology available to deliver Guernsey Fibre’s many elements from underground or overhead duct cabling, installation of Connectorised Block Terminals (CBT) and civil engineering.

All seven of the external suppliers that Guernsey Fibre has contracted are local companies, from a satellite installation firm to wiring specialists. The Guernsey Fibre team recognises the significant £12.5million investment by the States of Guernsey and has committed to keeping as much of this investment in the local economy as possible – investing in contracts with local companies who can then hire people on island.

As the pilot phase is nearing completion, the project’s finer details have been ironed out and it’s ahead of schedule, following the pace set out by Richard and his team. He adds: “We will continue this trajectory as we move into the next phase of the project.”

The pilot phase ends in mid-April when the team will begin the process of scaling up. This requires Guernsey Fibre engineers and partners to start increasing the number of properties that are ready to be connected to the new network to 700 a month, the rate that’s been deemed as consistently manageable for the remaining four years of the project.

To make this process as smooth as possible for homeowners and tenants alike, Guernsey Fibre has two new Community Liaison Officers, who Richard said are doing vital work: “The Community Liaison Officers are spending 80% of their time out on the streets, working with communities to ensure that our plan is articulated transparently and in the most easily understandable way possible. They are the face of the project and are essential for ensuring residents know what is happening and when it will affect them.”

Richard emphasised that the project is being rolled out carefully, with as little disruption to islanders’ lives as possible. He said: “We have been very methodical about the way we roll out Guernsey Fibre and we’ve been careful to consider how we install the new cabling to be highly functional but also as unobtrusive as possible.

“I want to assure every resident of Guernsey that the team is working to offer everyone the benefits of brilliantly fast and stable fibre network connections, with minimal disruption to the roads and to our lives.

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