A rollout of undersea broadband cables between the Scottish islands and the mainland has begun, in another challenging rollout of fibre services to the remotest parts of the UK.
The rollout forms part of a £146m project led by BT to bring fibre broadband services to 200,000 premises across the Highlands and islands, which involves the creation of a 1,200km network of underwater and land cables between the islands.
The first step in this work involved bringing a fibre cable onshore in the Outer Hebrides, with the specialist cable laying ship the Rene Descartes now working to link the cable back to the mainland.
Once the undersea cables are in place between the various islands work will commence on hooking up the homes and businesses to fibre services, with BT expecting this work to begin in 2015 and completed by the end of 2016.
Scottish deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the first stage was an “important step” for the future of Scotland, by ensuring even those in remote regions can get online.
“Our investment, and that of our partners in the project, will extend access to superfast broadband across Scotland. This will be a key factor in ensuring Scotland’s long-term economic prosperity,” she said.
The project is similar to a recent undersea fibre cable project that took place at the other end of the UK, with the Isles of Scilly welcoming its first fixed internet cable ashore.
This should be providing high-speed services by the autumn, helping businesses and residents on the island enjoy speeds of between 60-80Mbps.
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