Fibre broadband plan welcomed

Lerwick has been chosen as the first island community in the country to be offered fibre broadband as part of a £410 million partnership.

The town joins Keith in Moray as the latest areas to be announced as part of the Digital Highlands and Islands project.

Homes and businesses could qualify for the initiative, which aims to deliver fibre broadband to 84 per cent of premises across the Highlands and Islands by 2016.

It should see fibre broadband services offering speeds of up to 80Mbps roll out in the autumn, as BT engineers deploy the technology.

In total, more than three quarters of a million homes and business premises across the country are expected to benefit from the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative. In the Highlands and Islands, the £146m project is led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and funding partners include the Scottish government, HIE, and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK). BT, the selected private sector partner who is rolling out the open access fibre network, is investing heavily in the area to the tune of £19 million.

Managing director of digital marketing agency NB Communication, David Nicol, welcomed today’s announcement. But he said more details were needed.

“It could be very useful. We communicate with clients and suppliers all round the world all the time.

“Things are always changing and we need to keep up with new developments and it’s essential we have these fast speeds.

“The connection speed we already have suffices for what we need to do today, but it’s not enough for what we’ll be doing one, two, five years into the future. So it’s good to see them making this possible.”

“It sounds good on the face of it but the question is how do we actually get this, What does it mean in practice for both businesses and residential premises?”

Stuart Robertson, HIE’s Director of Digital Highlands and Islands, said: “The project is working hard to rollout fibre broadband to our other island communities as soon as possible, too. Major infrastructure work is scheduled to begin in the summer on the UK’s biggest sub-sea cabling project. It’s a mammoth and unprecedented undertaking – with 20 crossings in locations including Islay, Mull, Stornoway and South Uist.”

The partnership programme is in addition to BT’s £2.5b UK commercial rollout, which seeks to bring faster fibre broadband within reach of more than 1.4 million Scottish homes and businesses.

BT Scotland director Brendan Dick said: “Today marks an important next phase in our deployment, with the first island community now set to connect to fibre broadband several months ahead of schedule. This technological sea change will help island locations such as Lerwick to compete and thrive in the 21st century.

“New locations for fibre will be announced regularly as our engineers carry out detailed local surveys and finalise plans. Delivering a project on this scale is one of the most significant challenges we’ve faced anywhere in the UK in recent years, with our sub-sea cable laying programme set to break records later this year. It’s great to see this major step forward today, which will benefit rural communities on and off the Scottish mainland.”


Add Your Comment
  • paul barlow

    • April 18th, 2014 14:47

    What wonderful news for Lerwick. I suppose i should be grateful to be paying the same for my super fast 1.4mb connection some 57 times slower than what the town will get. Yet again us country folks lose out.

  • Charlie Banham - Cullivoe

    • April 18th, 2014 16:29

    Absolutely Wonderful isn’t it? handing over many £millions to the likes of BT to give higher broadband speeds to select areas, that already have a far superior broadband set up when compared to us in the North Isles, where we still get abysmal broadband speeds, and no hope of improvement for the foreseeable future

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not against progress, but surely the priority should be to first improve existing services to areas that are not presently getting a decent and reliable service?
    Present providers of broadband to remote locations tell the government that it is not economical (read as PROFITABLE) to improve service to these areas, and to a point, I can accept that, however when (if?) these projects are put out for tender it would make more sense that in order to secure a contract the provider MUST, at the same time, improve existing services in remote areas.
    The high speed service is a premium-priced and profitable product and I am sure that this requirement would result in many more competitive bids – in fact I would wager that some of these providers would literally ‘bite you hand off’ to secure the contract, regardless of this requirement
    No more monopolies that hold the government and us, the paying customer to ransom is what I would like to see.
    But, then again, I am far too old to hold by breath that long

  • Johnny Smith

    • April 18th, 2014 18:21

    It’s not before time as many years have passed since this was first spoken of. Lerwick will benefit yes, but what about us poor individuals here on Bressay for example whom suffer poor standard broadband, especially in the evening? The old ‘dial up’ connection gave faster transfers even when i was video conferencing…! Come on you lot, superfast broadband should be made available to everyone in Shetland and not just Lerwick.


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