More than three quarters of Shetland premises could be connected to “superfast broadband” by next year, a meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee heard today.
Development director Neil Grant said 76 per cent is the projected target, with most of these premises having “next generation” broadband speeds greater than 24 Mbps. The Lerwick, Quarff and Sumburgh exchanges were connected last year in the first phase, the second phase is planned for this year and the third for 2016, which will take in all but the most remote locations.
The rollout of so-called superfast broadband is ahead of target, according to Mr Grant, and is progressing well, with the ultimate aim of 100 per cent coverage in Shetland.
The project is being carried out by Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) together with the council’s communication technology service and Shetland Telecom.
The meeting heard that Shetland Telecom, comprising two council staff, generated a turnover of around £500,000 in the current year, with £200,000 net income going back to the council.
However this may go down next year as oil and gas construction projects scale down.
The Shetland Telecom project fibre network connects from the Faroese Telecom subsea SHEFA 2 cable at Sandwick, and links Lerwick, Scalloway, Brae and Sellaness.
Community Broadband Scotland has been set up by the Scottish government and managed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help remote communities to get connected.
Meanwhile the government’s rollout of superfast broadband has reached two million more homes and businesses, figures published today reveal. Of these, more than 220,000 properties in Scotland are enjoying access to faster speeds, with attention turning to the hardest to reach areas.
The rollout is delivering superfast access – internet speeds greater than 24 Mbps – to those properties not covered by existing commercial networks and is on track to take superfast access to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017. The UK already leads the EU “big five” nations when it comes to superfast access and take-up and the programme will ensure it stays ahead.
The government’s £1.7bn investment in the rollout is part of its long term economic plan.
Around 80 per cent of the UK already has access to superfast speeds, and the rollout is currently reaching an additional 40,000 homes and businesses every week.
Secretary of state for Scotland Alistair Carmichael said: “Whether you live in one of our major cities or in one of our most remote communities, the UK government is working to ensure Scotland is at the heart of the UK’s digital transformation.
“From banking to government services, in everyday life we are using more and more services online and today’s announcement is proof the substantial investment by the UK government is making a difference to businesses and the lives of families and communities across Scotland.”