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Remote Fair Isle Homes to Get Faster Broadband After GBP247K Grant

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016 (8:23 am) - Score 877

Residents of the tiny Fair Isle community, which sits around halfway between mainland Shetland and the Orkney islands (Northern Scotland), look set to benefit from faster Internet connectivity after Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) awarded a grant of £247,000 to the area.

The island itself is home to just 33 properties (55 people) and as a result the words “commercially viable for faster broadband” have never been uttered there. Meanwhile BT’s existing telephone lines struggle to deliver anything better than 0.5Mbps.

By comparison the new grant aims to build a “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) network on the island, although the exact details have yet to be confirmed (a lot of CBS schemes tend to use a mix of fibre optic and fixed wireless connectivity).

We also note that three different subsea fibre optic cables pass near the island, including Shetland Telecom’s SHEFA-2 link with the mainland, although a more powerful Microwave connection might also work.

Zoe Laird, Director of Community Broadband Scotland, said:

“It’s great to see a close-knit community like Fair Isle working together with Community Broadband Scotland on such an important initiative.

There is no doubt that this is a challenging project given its location and geography but where there is a will there is way and if we can do it on Fair Isle we can do it anywhere.

Access to high-quality broadband will bring social and economic benefits to many people who thought they would never have a good connection.

Thanks to the communities determination and support from project partners we are delighted to provide funding to secure robust superfast broadband which will create more opportunity for people to work, visit, learn and live on the Fair Isle.

Our job is to support communities, like Fair Isle, who will not be reached by the main roll-out of superfast broadband and our team of advisers throughout Scotland work to ensure there is no digital divide.”

The new network is expected to be overseen by the local Fair Isle Broadband Company Ltd. (FIBC), which was officially registered on 1st December 2015 (we found the documents). Sadly the project currently doesn’t have its own website and thus details remain hard to find. We understand that FIBC’s members will also be its subscribers (i.e. an entirely community owned company).

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Mark Jackson
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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