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BT To Recycle Undersea Cables To Improve Isles Of Scilly Broadband

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 “most ambitious” rural broadband project ever moves old undersea fibre

Residents on the Isles of Scilly are set to receive faster broadband from 2014. BT has announced a plan to recycle fibre optic cables in the Atlantic Ocean.

The undersea cables have previously been used for communications between the UK, Ireland and Spain but have been unused for around three years. A cable ship will spend a month later this year cutting and moving two cables and redirecting them to the Isles.

BT says the £3.7 million scheme is “the most ambitious UK project ever” to bring faster broadband speeds to a remote community. It is part of the £132 million Superfast Cornwall initiative between the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cornwall Council, which aims to deliver faster broadband throughout the county and Isles of Scilly in 2014.

Isles of Scilly Broadband

Isles of Scilly 2“The remote location of the Isles of Scilly, their wonderful maritime heritage and scientific and environmental status will present a variety of unique engineering challenges,” said Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall programme director for BT. “But BT has extensive experience of laying subsea cables in sensitive locations around the UK and further afield.”

“Environmentally, it is excellent news that we are able to breathe new life into existing cables which are no longer used, but still in very good condition,” he added. “Superfast Cornwall has raised the bar again by showing that fibre broadband can be brought to places that some thought impossible.”

All five inhabited islands are set to benefit from the project, which it is hoped will fuel economic growth, create more jobs, enhance communications with the mainland and improve the quality of life to all 2,200 residents. Previously the Isles, which are located 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall, have had to rely on a broadband service provided by a radio link from Lands’ End.

“We are delighted that a solution has been found to give our islands the best broadband access,” said Cllr Mike Hicks, chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly. “The Isles of Scilly’s communications with the UK mainland and beyond are a key part of creating a better, more prosperous future for islanders and will allow this vibrant community to take full advantage of its unique location.

“Faster broadband will underpin our tourist trade, will help our farmers and growers and will promote distance learning. New business opportunities will be stimulated on the Islands, encouraging local productivity and enhancing our quality of life.”

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