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Isles of Scilly get super-fast broadband

Super-fast fibre optic broadband has arrived on the Isles of Scilly, a group of islands on the extreme south-west of the country, out in the Atlantic Ocean off Land's End. BT has just completed the multi million pound project, one of the most ambitious in the UK, and the first customers are already using the high-speed services. Isles of Scilly households and businesses now have access to broadband speeds up to 80Mbps, which is ten times faster than the previous maximum of 8Mbps. 

Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT, said: ‘The arrival of fibre broadband on the Isles of Scilly, England’s most remote community, is a landmark event. It is a wonderful example of what is being achieved by BT in partnership with the public sector to bring this technology to locations across the UK, which would have been considered beyond reach just a few years ago. Already, more than 21 million UK homes and businesses have access to fibre broadband – which puts the UK ahead of any other major European economy – and now we are pushing the boundaries to go even further.’ 

‘The recent arrival of fibre broadband in remote UK locations as far afield as the Isles of Scilly and Shetland shows our commitment to overcoming the challenges and making fibre broadband as widely available as possible - and that we are doing so in an environmentally friendly way in a spirit of close cooperation with local communities.’

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 fibre broadband available to 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by the end of 2014. 

A 939- kilometre cable between Porthcurno, Cornwall, and Santander, Spain, which had remained unused on the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean since 2006, was diverted to the Isles of Scilly during a month-long operation involving the 12,184 tonne cable ship Resolute. 

BT’s local network business, Openreach, have also been installing a new network on the isles and building new links between the five inhabited islands. New fibre optic cables have been laid from the main island, St Mary’s, to Tresco and between Tresco and Bryher, whilst new microwave radio links have been used to provide the same fibre broadband services for St Agnes and St Martins. 

Until now, the 2,200 residents of Scilly – located 28 miles off the South West tip of Cornwall – have relied upon a phone and broadband service provided by a radio link between Lands End and the islands. 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), now have access to super-fast broadband.

Senior officials from Superfast Cornwall; BT, including the company’s chief executive Gavin Patterson; and representatives of the Isles of Scilly were due to join Lord Ahmad, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Communities and Local Government, on the isles today (Friday November 21) to mark the successful completion of the Isles of Scilly scheme. 

Lord Ahmad, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Communities and Local Government, said: ‘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.’

Councillor Amanda Martin, Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, said: ‘The arrival of superfast fibre optic broadband demonstrates that good partnership working can overcome significant challenges. Superfast broadband has the potential to revitalise the islands’ economy and to enhance the quality of living and working arrangements in the Isles of Scilly. I am proud that we are now one of the best connected archipelagos in the world. This would not have been possible without the significant investment by BT and the European Convergence programme.’

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