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HIE Says 75% of Shetland Islands Should Get Superfast Broadband

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 (9:41 am) - Score 691

Scotland’s Highlands and Islands Enterprise has “guaranteed” to help connect “at least” 75% of homes and businesses on the remote Shetland Islands to a new superfast broadband network by the end of 2015, which forms part of HIE’s wider £146 million investment into new fibre optic based infrastructure.

Locals had been concerned that the HIE would overlook their little neck of the woods and some, such as the north isles of Unst, Yell and Fetlar, had even formed their own community enterprise (Unst Partnership) to solve the problem by using Shetland Telecom’s new fibre optic link.

Alex Paterson, HIE Chief Executive, said (Shetnews):

The question that arises from that is, what about the other 25 per cent? You need to get to 84 per cent first before you can achieve 100 per cent, which means you have to build the basic infrastructure first – that’s 1,200 kilometres of fibre optic cable and 19 subsea crossings.

In order to get beyond the 75 per cent, there are two avenues available – firstly, there is Community Broadband Scotland, a government initiative who helps communities developing broadband solutions, and in addition to that we have an innovation fund as part of our contract with BT.”

According to Paterson, BT will begin carrying out the relevant survey work this summer and should then start building the infrastructure in 2014. Last September BT also announced a new £8 million project to replace its slow microwave wireless connection to the remote islands of Orkney and Shetland with a fibre optic cable link, which will connect via the undersea SHEFA-2 cable that links the Faroe Islands with mainland Scotland (here).

The HIE’s target also appears to be roughly still in keeping with the Shetland Islands Council‘s (SIC) original Digital Shetland strategy, which aimed to ensure that 90% of the islands population would be within reach of a superfast broadband service (i.e. faster than 25Mbps) by March 2016 (here).

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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