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Openreach Brings Ultrafast Broadband to Scottish Islands

Ross Kelly


Openreach Broadband Scottish Islands

The Shetland project alone required more than 1,300 metres of cabling along the A970 between Lerwick and Sullom Voe.

Households in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are set to become the best-connected in Scotland following plans to introduce ultrafast broadband.

Openreach is working alongside local developers to provide full-fibre accessibility to dozens of new homes in Gott on Shetland, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Bowmore on Islay, as well as Lochgilphead and Oban.

Connected Communities

Engineers have installed more than 5,000 metres of new core fibre cabling to reach the new sites, Openreach said, which is enough to stretch across the Skye Bridge more than a dozen times.

The new fibre networks build on the core fibre infrastructure already put in place by the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project, led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in the area.

The first premises to benefit from this project are at Orkney Builders’ Grainbank development in Kirkwall, where more than 30 houses are now able to access ultrafast connections.

Around 30 new houses and 16 flats at Gaet-a-Gott by Tingwall on Shetland will receive full-fibre capabilities at the end of September.

Read more: Openreach Unveils Ultrafast Broadband to Edinburgh Politicians

Efficient Techniques

The Shetland project alone required more than 1,300 metres of cabling along the A970 between Lerwick and Sullom Voe, Openreach confirmed. This new infrastructure will provide the same connectivity to the rest of the site which, when complete, will be comprised of around 80 new homes.

Andrew Hepburn, Openreach’s fibre delivery director for Scotland, commented: “We’ve been honing our skills on full-fibre rollout in places like Altnaharra in Sutherland. New, more efficient techniques and equipment we tried out there are now helping us to deliver full-fibre networks to other rural places.

“We’ve cracked some challenges to bring FTTP (Fibre-to-the-Premises) to these island sites, like shipping out specialist equipment to Shetland to blow the delicate glass fibres through underground piping.”

Hepburn added: “FTTP provides an unbeatable service for residential broadband, with lots of capacity for data-hungry services and applications, it’s also great for businesses, giving them all the bandwidth they need to max their online operations and future growth.”

FTTP offers far greater capacity, reliability and is capable of broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps, which is around 22 times faster than the current UK average of 46.2 Mbps, Openreach said in a statement.

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At the new Sealladh development at Bowmore on Islay, twenty houses will be connected to full-fibre in October, which an additional 12 flats and four houses on the site of a former high school in Lochgilphead.

Stornoway will soon follow, with more than 1,200 metres of core fibre spine already in place to provide services to 50 new premises at Sandwick.

The first FTTP at a building site, located in the Oban exchange area, has now gone live on the Glenshellach development, where 26 houses and 24 flats will be given access to higher-capacity broadband services.

Read more: FSB Calls for Government Action on Digital Connectivity

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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