Undersea cable brings superfast broadband to the Isles of Scilly

An ambitious and unusual project is being undertaken in the UK to bring superfast broadband to a remote community. Fiber-optic cables that have remained unused on the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean for about three years are to be diverted to the Isles of Scilly, off the southwest tip of Cornwall, as part of a £3.7 million scheme to give the islanders the fastest broadband speeds.

An ambitious and unusual project is being undertaken in the UK to bring superfast broadband to a remote community. Fiber-optic cables that have remained unused on the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean for about three years are to be diverted to the Isles of Scilly, off the southwest tip of Cornwall, as part of a £3.7 million scheme to give the islanders better broadband access.

A cable ship is due to spend about a month later this year cutting and moving two fiber cables that had previously been used for communications between the UK and Ireland and Spain.

The project is part of the £132 million Superfast Cornwall initiative between the European Regional Development Fund, BT, and Cornwall Council, which plans to deliver faster broadband throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by 2014 (see "BT launches FTTP project in Cornwall"). The private and public sector partnership has already delivered high-speed fiber-optic broadband to more than half of all Cornish homes and businesses.

It is expected that the initial Isles of Scilly customers will be connected during the first half of 2014.

Until now, the 2,200 residents of the Isles of Scilly – located 28 miles off the South West tip of Cornwall – have had to make do with a broadband service provided by a radio link between Lands End and the Isles.

Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall program director for BT, said, “BT engineers have devised a highly innovative and environmentally friendly scheme to bring fiber broadband to the islands that is pioneering in every sense of the word. It is certainly the most ambitious initiative of its kind ever undertaken in UK waters and probably in Europe.”

Cllr Mike Hicks, chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, said, "We are delighted that a solution has been found to give our islands the best broadband access. 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."

For more information on FTTx/access systems and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer’s Guide.

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