IT was launched more than two years ago as the internet of the future – and Bournemouth was heralded as the UK’s first Fibrecity.

Originally planning to install a £30 million network of fibre optic cables in the town’s sewers, Fibrecity has come up against several problems since then.

A dispute with Wessex Water has meant the sewer plan had to be shelved and cables installed in a more traditional way – by digging up pavements.

As a result, over the months the Daily Echo has carried stories about the disruption – including cables for existing internet connections being accidentally cut – and received dozens of letters on the subject.

But Fibrecity is insisting it will all be worth it for the lightning-quick internet – as well as TV and phone services – that some are already enjoying.

Fibrecity told the Daily Echo that 47,000 residents – 55 per cent of homes – had opted in to having a cable installed, although it has not said how many had signed up as paying customers on packages starting from £9.99 a month plus £10 line rental.

By December, it says 25,000 homes will be able to receive services, with the network complete by the end of 2011 – around 4,000 homes are being hooked up each month.

A spokesman apologised for the short-term disruption, but added: “Many of the homes and businesses that the network has already passed can take advantage of superfast broadband now if they want to, as services are already available.”

According to David Newell, programme leader of multimedia and network systems courses at Bournemouth University, it really will be superfast.

He said: “The big difference between this and the traditional broadband is that they’re claiming they’re going to offer what we call ‘fibre to the desktop’, as opposed to what current suppliers are supplying, which is it stopping at the kerb.”

Mr Newell said that while providers like Virgin claimed they used fibre optic broadband, the service still came through cables laid by cable TV companies 20 or more years ago.

Fibrecity added: “Our definition of ‘superfast’ broadband is speeds in excess of 100Mbps with up to 1Gbps boost. This is much faster than anywhere else in the country and is possible because the network we are building is fibre to the home rather than fibre to the cabinet.

“So, when residents and businesses buy services offered over the Fibrecity network, the fibre optic cable is connected to the property rather than it only reaching as far as the exchange.”

But do Bournemouth people really know what it’s all about? We asked shoppers in the town centre.

Alan Thomas, of Winton, said: “I’ve read a lot about them digging up the pavements and so on, but I don’t really know much else or if it’s anything different to broadband.”

Laurence Bennett, from Branksome, said: “I’m going to see how it runs at my parent’s house and then maybe try it out.”

John Gates, from Highcliffe, said: “I’ve never heard of it. I only use the internet now and then at the library so a superfast connection wouldn’t be a big deal for me.”

Peta Phelps, of Moordown, said: “They’re the ones that have been digging up the pavements aren’t they? I know that I’ve got it outside my house and that I’ll get quicker broadband eventually.

“I’ve already got broadband that’s good enough for me.”

The Fibrecity spokesman added: “We have tried to make the opt in process simple, but we understand that it is a new concept and people may be suspicious.

“I want to make it clear that this is a long-term commitment, and we will continue to publicise the project so as to help with understanding just how this will transform the communications network in the town.”