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BT Spend GBP3.7m to Divert Unused Fibre Optic Cable to the Isles of Scilly

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 (12:59 pm) - Score 1,437

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.

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24 Responses
  1. Avatar Bob2002 says:

    Is £1700/resident value for money?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I guess that’s a matter of opinion but lest we not forget that this is a largely public EU and UK funded scheme. I’m also not sure if they plan to decommission the microwave link or not and what impact that would have (redundancy). Similarly businesses will also benefit.

    2. Avatar Bob2002 says:

      Yes, my question was just out of curiosity rather than anything else. I suppose you would have to compare it with other projects Superfast Cornwall have funded.

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Actually only about 40% of the funding is public money, the rest is from BT.

    4. Avatar Steve Hopper says:

      Lets be clear about this BT Fibre Optic. I was a BT customer on the old copper wire system but left because I was fed up tot eh back teeth of getting throttled back when I was only getting 7 to 9 mb at best.

      I came back to BT when they said my area was Fibre Optic live and I could get a minimum of 29mb. So I signed up with BT again,sometimes I do get 29mb and sometimes my bandwidth is restricted. However, when I spoke to the engineer who was installing the system, I was shocked to learn that the Fibre Optic is not to the property, it is to the local exchange. So any connection you have is only as good as the copper wire between the property and the local exchange. I was tempted to tell him not to bother installing it but I had already signed the agreement.

      I only mention this because I think customers should be made highly aware, you are NOT getting Fibre Optic cable to your property, it is only to the local exchange.

  2. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    Great if they use the fibre for fibre networks on the islands, not so great if they use it for inferior cabinets to protect their cash cow for another decade. BT have fibre all over the mainland but they are only using it to feed copper phone lines? are they going to do the same in Scilly?

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      Probably. “Fibre on demand” is the path to extorting more money.

      Had this been done correctly, you’d have thought someone would put in the fibre link and probably someone else – from a range of tendering companies – would have laid the last mile network, bringing compeition, driving down prices and bringing value for money.

      In reality I’ll bet homes will end up paying thousands on top of all the public subsidy that they’re already paying for just to get the fibre broadband that was actually promised.

      What’s likely to be delivered in this phase is analogous to spending £20k on a top-end audio system and listening to it through a pair of headphones you got in Adsa for three quid. The scarcity model prevails.

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Did anyone read the article? This is to replace the existing slow microwave link, there’s not much point rolling our FTTC/P and having a shabby uplink

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @Chris, @Mark
      If you must insist on banging on about FTTP, please enlighten us on where the £25bn or so to pay for it will come from. You keep criticising FTTC, which is currently delivering just under 70Mbps for me, will meet my needs for some time to come. Which companies are lining up to offer something different, better to the majority, bearing in mind FTTC is already available to more homes than cable?

    4. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Chris, you may not know but many, many properties have fibre connections for voice and data, and have had so for many years.

  3. Avatar NGA for all says:

    Not one penny of BT money is being spent on this, BT rural ransom rates apply. £100k per cabinet/path, millions per exchange and FOD as made clear by Openreach on BBC Radio 4 – DEC 13th and 16th.

    Congrats to Cornwall and the Crown Estate for forcing the issue. Let’s hope you publish and itemise the BT costs so others can see how VFM is being achieved. It probably is the case that here ‘Gap Funding’ will exceed 100%.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      How do you mean? BT are not contributing to Superfast Cornwall themselves?

    2. Avatar TheFacts says:

      £78.5m of the £132m budget will be provided by our partner, BT. The remainder – up
      to £53.5m is being provided by the European Regional Development Fund Convergence

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @NGA for all
      Your post is full of factual inaccuracies. You’re entitled to your opinions, but the occasional fact would give them a bit more credibility.

      I’m guessing you will not be able to substantiate your assertion that the gap funding will exceed 100%, and certainly cannot back up your claim that no BT money is involved, bearing in mind 60% of the total funding is from BT. And why do people assume that slogans using alliteration (“rural ransom”) lend otherwise empty phrases any credibility? To be fair, there are others on here that are equally guilty of that!

      The world is full of all sorts of conspiracy theorists already, do we really need more?

    4. Avatar NGA for all says:

      New Londer, on this particular link, just asking for the numbers. The project is cool, but’s what’s wrong with cost transpatency where state aid is involved? Openreach referenced the £100k per cabinet/path and millions per exchange on a BBC radio 4 on DEC 13th, is not some itemisation appropriate? The press releases for the other rural projects show >£220 per premise past for BDUK projects, while NI came in at £70 a premise past. There are differences but not that many. If the appropriate level of cost transpareny was in place, public monies will go futher and their will be higher levels of FTTP possible. It needs no more than a change in BT’s Undertakings to reveal the incremental costs where state aid is present.

    5. Avatar TheFacts says:

      @NGA for all – still saying ‘Not one penny of BT money is being spent on this’?

    6. Avatar NGA for all says:

      @THEFACTS – If BT is contributing 10% or even 5% or even 1% to the Isles of Scilly link I will nominate BT managers for gongs.
      The lack of competition demands transparency and itemisation of costs.
      Here I think it is probably more appropriate to salute the determination of those in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in getting the job done and negotiating the funds and state aid in Europe and wayleaves. I will be the first to salute BT when press releases are sufficiently clear in itemising the costs and their actual capital contribution to the Isles of Scilly link.

      It will be a fantastic achievement for Cornwall, but the value of the benchmark for other communities will be much enhanced if all costs were open to scrutiny and published.

      Sorry for any outburst, but their is enough BDUK/LA/DA monies to reach more than 95% NGA in most territories, but it will not be achieved unless their is full disclosure and scrutiny of incremental costs.

    7. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Part of contribution – ‘BT has extensive experience of laying subsea cables in sensitive locations around the UK and further afield.’

    8. Avatar FibreFred says:

      NGA for all

      So you have no idea how the new link is being paid for but as you have an axe to grind against BT you are saying BT are not paying a penny (with no proof either way) and expect all to believe you?


    9. Avatar NGA for all says:

      Fibrefred – lack of transparency is a valid axe to grind where state aid is being applied. Nothing against BT per se, I am sure they will win all the NGA bids, this is no bad thing, the job needs doing, they own the access network, but more scrutiny on costs is needed so as many rural users as possible benefit.

    10. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Such figures should be available to the customer I would have thought, the LA that is getting the funding and the network? Surely they don’t just handover money blindly?

  4. I can just imagine it now…

    “oh ****, I thought you guys said that this fibre was not in use!!!” as half of Spain loses internet connectivity. 🙂

  5. Avatar zemadeiran says:

    Good job reusing and re-provisioning existing infrastructure…

  6. Avatar Mark Foster says:

    Sucks for the rest of us in Cornwall that still dont have fibre. Dont see any sign of getting fibre and are pretty much in the dark about getting fibre.

    I live in an area where the exchange is enabled. Connected to a cab that is not going to get the work and there is a new cab further up the road same distance that is FTTC enabled.

    I could pay £2500 to have FTTP on demand but why should I. I pay more taxes than Starbucks who can get FTTC in Truro.

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