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BT to brave land and sea to bring superfast broadband to the Hebrides


Shetlands to get superfast speeds
Shetlands to get superfast speeds

Rejoice, people of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland! British Telecom is heading your way armed with 1,200km of fibre-optic cable, it intends to infuse with some rather speedy internet connectivity.

The telecoms giant is embarking on its toughest assignment yet, in the UK government's ongoing mission to provide even the remotest areas of Britain with access to superfast broadband.

The £146 million project will charter the extreme north of the country, reaching as far as the Orkney, Shetland and Hebrides Islands and will bring speeds of up to 80Mbps by the end of 2016.

The construction will see 497 miles (800km) of fibre-optic cable laid on land and 248.9 miles (400km) laid on the seabed. It'll also involve 19 crossings to each of the remote islands in the region.

Just a couple of weeks removed from announcing its plans to bring superfast speeds to the Scilly Isles off the coast of Cornwall, BT says this is its toughest challenge yet.

Bill Murphy, Managing Director of Next-Generation Broadband at BT said the firm would have to overcome some "incredible obstacles" to build the network over "some of the most rugged terrain in the UK".

"And we have huge distances to cover as we lay our cables over the hills and glens and under the sea," he added.

The project sees yet another chunk of taxpayer money thrown in BT's direction as part of the Broadband Delivery UK initiative, although the Scottish government and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise group are also kicking in some cash. BT itself is contributing £19.4m to the project.

BT is now the only game in town, when it comes to bidding for these high-value infrastructure contracts, since Fujitsu pulled out of the bidding process last week. BT effectively has a monopoly on the £500m being handed out as part of the initiative and has won all of the contracts awarded so far.



March 26, 2013, 8:42 pm

I don't even have fibre optic in the middle of Gloucester! I'm on a brand new housing estate and instead of putting it down with the water pipes, gas pipes, electrical cables and telephone lines they have decided to wait until all the roads are laid and pay a fortune to dig it all up again at some point in the future, idiots!


March 26, 2013, 9:28 pm

"BT to brave land and see to bring superfast broadband to the Hebrides"

Groan. You put the Grauniad to shame.

Rob Paris

March 26, 2013, 11:01 pm

They are most likely referring to the installation of fibre optic infrastructure up to the local telephone exchanges, not right to peoples' houses. There is very little fibre optic being installed right to peoples' houses at the moment in the UK (aka FTTP or FTTH). It tends to only be fibre to the local BT street cabinet and then simply the copper phone line from then on. So it's no great wonder your new housing estate doesn't have fibre running straight to the houses.


March 26, 2013, 11:13 pm

Maximum I and all my neighbours can get is 2mb, a few hundred feet away they can get 50+ no problem.
The point I am making is companies are not being smart about how they are spending their money. It would almost be free to install fiber on new houses compared to the man hour costs and disruption of digging roads up to lay these at a later date.


March 27, 2013, 8:57 am

Seoul Airport 2007, 100mbs wifi and free to use. They consider it infrastructure.

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