BT Set To Invest £8m In Broadband Link To Orkney and Shetland

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BT’s speeds in Orkney, Shetland and northern Scotland are set to double with new 1,000km fibre connection

BT is set to invest £8 million in a new fibre link between Inverness in the north of Scotland to Orkney and Shetland which will double the previous fastest speeds available to 20Mbps.

BT was beaten to the punch in Shetland, by the local community telecoms group, Shetland Telecom, which hooked the islands up to the SHEFA-2 cable between Scotland and the Faroes.

BT currently only has microwave radio links to the islands, but is upgrading with a link to SHEFA-2, and will lease capacity on that cable. It will retain its microwave system as a backup while a fault reporting service will be implemented until the new link becomes operational next year.

Almost 1,000km of fibre cable, including 400km of subsea, will be used, making it one of the longest optical transmission systems in the UK. Its length has required a bespoke design and improvements to the remote maintenance of the connection.

Scotland Broadband

scotland castle eilean donan © Michal Durinik ShutterstockThe island towns of Kirkwall and Lerwick will have access to BT’s business Ethernet services, as will Dingwall, Tain and Thurso which lie on the mainland section of the connection. Customers in Alness and Invergorden will also witness an increase in broadband speeds

The business network allows large businesses, SMBs and public sector organisations a choice of guaranteed broadband speeds over a dedicated line ranging from 1Mbps to 10GBps.

“This significant investment demonstrates BT’s ongoing commitment to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland,” said Brendan Dick, Director of BT Scotland. “In fact, no communications company is doing more than BT to roll-out next generation broadband services across the Highlands and Islands. And, by investing £8 million in this fibre spine for Orkney, Shetland and the north of Scotland, BT is laying the building blocks for any future deployment of fibre broadband.”

“Faster broadband is touching the Iives of everyone – from small businesses and homeworkers, to internet shoppers, students, families and online gaming enthusiasts – and transforming the way we do things, for the better. BT is committed to making faster technologies available to as many homes and businesses as possible,” he added.

The SNP in particular has been a vocal critic about the level of funding allocated to improving broadband in Scotland. The UK government awarded the country an addition £32 million in funding in June, while the Scottish Highlands and islands were granted another £120 million by the Scottish government earlier this year.

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