After winning the Rural Enterprise category for the South West region of the 2024 Countryside Alliance Awards earlier this year (here), alternative rural broadband provider Wessex Internet has today announced that they’ve just won the same category at the national awards too.

The Countryside Alliance Awards, which are now in their 17th year, exist to help recognise businesses that go the extra mile within their communities, such as by supporting the local economy and championing local goods and services. Wessex Internet was initially nominated anonymously by their customers, before later topping a public vote to win the earlier award in the South West. The national award was then chosen by a panel of judges.

NOTE: Wessex Internet is backed by majority shareholder abrdn and in late 2023 secured £35m of additional funding, including a Senior Debt Facility from Triodos Bank (here). The operator is deploying a full fibre (FTTP) gigabit broadband network across rural parts of Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Somerset in England.

The operator’s existing network footprint is currently said to cover “tens of thousands of homes” (some of this may include their old fixed wireless network too), while their business plan targets an “additional” 150,000 premises by 2027 through a combination of subsidised and unsubsidised capital investment. The ISP has also secured four Project Gigabit contracts from the UK Government to help connect 36,000 premises to their FTTP network.

Prices for their full fibre packages start at £29 per month for a 100Mbps (15Mbps upload) tier on a 12-month term, but this only comes with a meagre 100GB data allowance (£44 for unlimited), and you’ll have to pay £49 (one-off) for activation. By comparison, their top unlimited usage plan will give 900Mbps (450Mbps upload) for £79 per month, which is fairly expensive by today’s standards, albeit still good if nobody else can supply FTTP.

Hector Gibson Fleming, CEO at Wessex Internet, said:

“I’m absolutely over the moon that we have been recognised as Rural Enterprise champion at the 2024 Countryside Alliance Awards. This is a huge testament to the history of the business, the hard work of all of our people, and because we have stayed true to our values since forming as a small company to help our neighbours to now serving rural communities across Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire.

It was particularly heartening for the judges to recognise not only the impact we make directly on the rural economy as a growing company and local employer, but more widely that the ultrafast broadband we provide enables other rural businesses to thrive and allows people living in the countryside to enjoy a higher quality of life.

Whether by enabling remote and hybrid working for professionals, keeping businesses connected to their customers, helping families to keep in touch with loved ones, or simply enabling people to enjoy the range of entertainment and essential services available online, we are determined to bridge the digital divide.”

The event itself was held at the House of Lords in London yesterday (Tuesday 25 June).

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