The project manager for Shetland Telecom, which is busy improving internet capacity on the remote Shetland Islands via a new fibre optic link with Scotland, has told ISPreview.co.uk that it’s “complete madness” for the UK government to spend millions attempting to “squeeze more life” out of BT’s existing copper broadband ISP network.
Shetland Telecom, which is managed by Marvin Smith, was originally established by the Shetland Islands Council (SIC) to help implement its £1.1m project to deliver a “resilient, reliable and affordable backhaul” solution to islanders by interconnecting with the undersea SHEFA2 fibre optic cable; this vital link also runs through the Faroe Islands to mainland Scotland (UK).
The scheme, which was granted state aid clearance by the European Union (EU) at the end of 2010, is seen as vital for helping to implement SIC’s plan to deliver superfast broadband services across 90% of the islands by March 2016. Indeed without it they’d only have BT’s dated microwave wireless link to go on, which has proven to be somewhat unsatisfactory.
Since then the new network has recently begun to connect its first homes via two community broadband ISPs and now even BT plans to make use of the infrastructure, which should finally bring faster and more stable internet access to many more premises on the islands (here).
However, deploying a new fibre optic infrastructure into such a remote community is not without challenge, yet Shetland Telecom has shown that it can be done. Suffice to say that we wanted to know more about what the project has achieved and how its manager, Marvin Smith, perceives the UK’s wider strategy for rolling out faster broadband services.
Q1. Can you tell us a little about how and what you’re currently doing to help improve broadband connectivity on the Shetland Islands?
Shetland Telecom was started as a project by Shetland Islands Council about 2 years ago. For about 10 years now the Council has had a focus on improving telecoms services in Shetland. Communications with the outside world is of vital importance when you live and work on a rock in the North Sea.