BT has confirmed that £3.7m from the £132m Superfast Cornwall scheme will be used to divert an undersea fibre optic cable, which has rested “unused … for about three years” on the seabed, to help bring faster broadband ISP connectivity to the Isles of Scilly and surrounding islands.
The Superfast Cornwall scheme ultimately aims to deploy fibre optic based broadband (FTTC/P) services to “at least” 80% of homes and businesses in Cornwall (England) and the Isles of Scilly by the end of 2014. So far more than 50% of premises have already been covered and the project is now focusing upon increasingly remote communities, such as the Scillies.
The 2,200 residents of the Isles of Scilly are currently connected to the mainland (Lands End) via an inferior Microwave radio link, which only offers the slowest of broadband speeds (though Satellite is also an option). But all that looks set to change during the first half of 2014 when the first customers are expected to connect via the new fibre.
Ranulf Scarbrough, BTs Superfast Cornwall Director, said:
“BT engineers have devised a highly innovative and environmentally-friendly scheme to bring fibre broadband to the islands that is pioneering in every sense of the word. It is certainly the most ambitious initiative of its kind ever undertaken in UK waters and probably in Europe.
The remote location of the Isles of Scilly, their wonderful maritime heritage and scientific and environmental status will present a variety of unique engineering challenges. But BT has extensive experience of laying subsea cables in sensitive locations around the UK and further afield.
Environmentally, it is excellent news that we are able to breathe new life into existing cables which are no longer used, but still in very good condition. Superfast Cornwall has raised the bar again by showing that fibre broadband can be brought to places that some thought impossible.”
It’s understood that a special cable ship will be dispatched to conduct the work later this year. The ship will take around a month to cut and move two fibre optic cables, which had previously been used for communications between the UK and Ireland and Spain.