BT enables superfast broadband on Isles of Scilly

UK operator BT reports that an ambitious project to bring superfast broadband to a remote community has just been completed with the first customers already using the high-speed technology. Isles of Scilly households and businesses now have access to broadband speeds up to 80 Mbps, which is 10X faster than the previous maximum of up to 8 Mbps.

UK operator BT reports that an ambitious project to bring superfast broadband to a remote community has just been completed with the first customers already using the high-speed technology. Isles of Scilly households and businesses now have access to broadband speeds up to 80 Mbps, which is 10X faster than the previous maximum of up to 8 Mbps.

To connect the community, a 939-km submarine cable between Porthcurno, Cornwall, and Santander, Spain, which had remained unused on the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean since 2006, had to be diverted to the Isles of Scilly during a month-long operation involving the 12,184 ton cable ship Resolute (see "Undersea cable brings superfast broadband to the Isles of Scilly").

The laying of the cable from the mainland was just the start, says the operator. Engineers from BT's local network business, Openreach, have also been busy installing a new network on the isles and building new links between the five inhabited islands. New fiber-optic cables have been laid from the main island, St. Mary's, to Tresco and between Tresco and Bryher, while new microwave radio links have been used to provide broadband services for St. Agnes and St. Martins.

The project is part of the £132 million Superfast Cornwall initiative between the European Regional Development Fund, BT and Cornwall Council, which plans to make fiber-optic broadband available to 95% of homes and businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by the end of 2014.

Previously, the 2,200 residents of Scilly – located 28 miles off the South West tip of Cornwall – have relied upon a radio link between Lands End and the islands. Now people on all five of Scilly’s inhabited islands, famous for their remote Atlantic location and as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), have access to the high-speed technology.

Lord Ahmad, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Communities and Local Government, said, "Bringing fiber-optic broadband to the Isles of Scilly is another demonstration that Britain means business. No matter where in Britain you live and work, this government is committed to empowering you with the tools you need to connect and communicate in the 21st century. Through accessing the European Regional Development Fund and working in partnership with BT and Cornwall Council we have made an investment in the future of the Isles of Scilly which will ensure that this community will continue to thrive for generations to come."

Nigel Ashcroft MBE, Superfast Cornwall program director for Cornwall Development Company, the economic development company of Cornwall Council, added, "There has been huge interest in this project by the people of the Isles of Scilly. It represents one of the largest single investments ever undertaken on these remote isles and makes them some of the best connected islands in the world."

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