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A ‘Technological Sea Change’ for Islands: Subsea Cables Laid for Broadband Connectivity

“The laying of subsea cables to 15 islands across the Highlands, Argyll and Bute, Shetland and Orkney represents welcome progress to achieving our ambition.”

Kate Forbes, Scottish Government Economy Secretary

Subsea cables are being laid to improve Broadband connectivity to our islands as part of the R100 North project.

The first of 16 cables is being laid around Shetland under the £384 million Reaching 100% (R100) North contract, being delivered on the ground by Openreach.

Fraser Rowberry, Openreach’s Chief Engineer for Scotland said: 

“We’re excited to see this mammoth subsea build get started after months of in-depth planning. Laying cables on the seabed is incredibly complex, with lots of environmental, engineering and logistical challenges.

“Residents and visitors will see activity in the waters around Shetland, Orkney and the West Coast as work progresses this summer.

“Work on new landing points on the islands – which will link the new, subsea cables into the wider broadband network – is also progressing. Together these elements lay a crucial foundation for the islands’ future connectivity.”

The ‘technological sea change’ will connect premises on 15 islands to faster broadband capable of one gigabit per second download speeds. This is more than 30 times faster than the Scottish Government’s original commitment. 

This stage, expected to be completed by September affects:

  • Colonsay, Iona and Lismore in Argyll and Bute Council
  • Eigg in the Highland Council area
  • Eday, Flotta, Hoy, Rousay, Sanday, Shapinsay and Stronsay in Orkney Islands Council
  • Fair Isle, Unst, Whalsey and Yell in Shetland Islands Council

Commenting on the progress of the R100 North project the Scottish Government’s Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: 

“This installation work demonstrates our commitment to extending access to faster broadband to all areas of Scotland. Once connected, future-proofed broadband will make it easier for islanders to keep in touch, work remotely and access services online. It will also benefit visitors and promote greater regional business productivity in line with our National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

“Scotland has some of the most challenging locations anywhere in Europe for providing telecommunications infrastructure, yet we are determined to deliver access to fibre broadband to every premise in the country. “

The R100 Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS) voucher – offering up to £5,000 per premises – is available to ensure those who will not benefit from the R100 contract build or commercial build have support to access a superfast broadband connection. 

Home owners and businesses can obtain their date for connection via the postcode checker.

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