27th September 2016
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Fair Isle takes leap towards superfast broadband

5 comments, , by , in News

Fair Isle is said to be close to accessing superfast broadband following a funding boost of close to a quarter of a million pounds.

The £247,000 allocation is designed to help connect the 33 properties in the island which are not covered by Digital Scotland superfast broadband roll-out.

It follows work between Fair Isle Broadband Company (FIBC) and the Scottish government’s Community Broadband Scotland – which is awarding the funds – aimed at improving broadband speeds.

The island is currently served by the Fair Isle BT Exchange Activate, which delivers up to 0.5 Mbps. With the funding in place, it is hoped those speeds can be increased to more than 30Mbps.

Fair Isle resident Brian Smith has spearheaded the project.

“We’re delighted to be receiving funding from Community Broadband Scotland to take our community broadband project to the next stage.

“This will utterly transform the lives of the people who live here, from those running their own businesses, to our local school, our public services and to the tourists who visit. I also believe this project will help make Fair Isle a more attractive place to live and help turn around the decline in population and bring about a more sustainable and connected community.”

Zoe Laird, director of Community Broadband Scotland, added: “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 community’s 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.”

The project has also been praised by Deputy First Minister, John Swinney.

“This is a fantastic project for Fair Isle, and a great example of what our communities can achieve with CBS support. It will deliver a sustainable superfast broadband network to serve some of the most geographically and technically challenging remote rural premises in the country.”

5 comments

  1. John Tulloch

    Fantastic, very well done to all involved!

    ““This will utterly transform the lives of the people who live here, from those running their own businesses, to our local school, our public services and to the tourists who visit. I also believe this project will help make Fair Isle a more attractive place to live and help turn around the decline in population and bring about a more sustainable and connected community.”(Brian Smith, Fair Isle).

    Now let’s get the rest of Shetland hooked up to a decent broadband service.

    Reply
  2. ali Inkster

    How much cheaper would it be I wonder to get satellite broadband in to the bird club and retransmit it from there? And how much are the owners of the island putting up?

    Reply
    • Robert Duncan

      I’d expect there will be a microwave link from the south of Shetland, rather than any subsea cabling, which would give an answer to your question of “not much”.

      Reply
    • John Tulloch

      In my last employment we used satellite comms for transmitting data to and from remote power stations and the central control room.

      The installation was relatively cheap however the rental of channels wasn’t cheap (versus BT private wire) and unless you paid a premium rate your signal could be knocked off in the event of overload or equipment failures so that premium account holders could stay connected. So it was mostly used as a backup for BT failures.

      Satellite signals are susceptible to failures due to heavy rain and wet snow and I have doubts about what quality and speed of broadband you would get.

      I’m not knowledgeable about the design of these systems but I suspect a microwave channel would give vastly superior performance?

      It doesn’t say how much of the cost is related to distributing the high speed signals around the island, fibre optic cable rolled out over the surface is vulnerable to damage from off-road vehicles, heavy animals and even vandalism and protecting can be expensive.

      Reply
      • Robert Duncan

        My understanding is that a microwave link allows speeds comparable to fibre, which means better performance right now and a far more expandable network in future.

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