The tiny community of West Burrafirth on the remote Shetland Islands (North of Scotland) will soon see their broadband ISP speeds lifted from just 0.16Mbps (Megabits per second) to around 25Mbps thanks to a new wireless and fibre optic link, support from a local ISP and national lottery funding.
The West Burrafirth Community Broadband Group (WBCBG) represents just seven households and to date BT has, perhaps understandably, shown little interest in upgrading the connectivity. As a result the locals decided to do-it-themselves, albeit with a little help from local ISP Shetland Broadband and a grant of £9,700 from the National Lottery.
It’s understood that the service, which “officially” goes live today (though it’s technically already online), made use of a previously redundant 30-year old TV mast that now stands on top of a hill at Engamoor and is powered by little more than a small wind turbine (we assume this has a battery backup).
The mast connects via two Microwave dish signals back to Shurton Hill 15 miles away (near Lerwick) and from there the connection links into Shetland Telecom’s fibre optic cable, which ultimately connects to the undersea SHEFA2 cable.
John White, WBCBG Chairman, said (Shetland Times):
“We are really pleased that we have been able to get the funding and infrastructure in place to ensure our community can access superfast broadband speeds. Shetland Broadband has been invaluable with [its] expertise in making this project a reality.”
Shetland Broadband is now exploring whether or not the setup could be replicated in other areas that have line-of-sight to the islands primary fibre optic hubs, although each community is likely to require its own bespoke package as more homes will need more kit and power.