Digital Forum reveals success of superfast broadband roll-out

Superfast broadband can now be enjoyed by around 81% of homes, shops and offices in the isles as a nationwide drive to end slow speeds makes its mark.

Three years of investment in a fibre optic broadband network by a state-led project has led to around 9,000 homes being covered. This means the target of 75% coverage has been surpassed.

The latest figures were revealed at the Digital Forum for Shetland in Brae on Wednesday 23rd August.

The forum recognised the work of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project, a collaboration among the Scottish government, UK government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and BT.

Stuart Robertson, HIE director of digital, said: “This project has brought mainstream fibre optic services to many parts of Shetland for the first time. Across Shetland today more than 6 out of 10 premises are able to order broadband with download speeds of more than 30Mbps.”

The investment began after it was recognised that broadband companies do not have any plans to give Shetlanders mainstream superfast connections.

To ensure isles homes are not left out of the digital revolution, work is being done to instal cabinets which provide superfast broadband to homes by connecting them to the telephone exchange partly through fibre optic lines.

A total of 56 cabinets are now in place across 20 areas, from North Roe to Sumburgh.

Bressay was reached using wireless-to-the-cabinet technology, which uses radio signals. This gives internet users the same speeds as if they were connected to cabled fibre cabinets.

Mr Robertson said: “Given there was no mainstream fibre-based broadband in Shetland, it’s a great first step for communities and businesses.  There is further to go, and the Scottish Government is developing the next project which aims to bring access to superfast to all by 2021.”

BT Scotland director Brendan Dick said: “Our fibre broadband roll-out programme is providing more coverage than we said we would.  I’m very pleased that we’ve delivered what’s been asked of us, and more, under the terms of the Highlands and Islands contract and we’re continuing to work hard with our partners to bring faster broadband to Scotland’s island groups.”

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