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Superfast broadband boost

SHETLAND could feel some benefit from Wednesday’s government spending review with the roll out of superfast broadband in Lerwick, Scalloway, Sumburgh and Brae.

A bid from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to upgrade 46 areas within the region has been accepted by the Westminster government, including the four in Shetland.

The upgrade could be rolled out further to more rural areas, but will depend on the £1 million Shetland Islands Council project to connect the isles to Faroe’s fibre optic cable that crosses the isles in the south mainland.

The fastest connections in Shetland right now are 8mbps (megabits per second), though rural areas are only experiencing 0.5mbps in places. Superfats broadband could bring the highest speeds up to 20mbps.

SIC telecoms development officer Marvin Smith said: “It’s fantastic that improvements to broadband in Shetland is going ahead in the foreseeable future. The plan is to have everything up and running in the next 18 months.

“But any improvement here will depend on connecting to the fibre optic cable, which should be operational by March.”

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott lobbied Scottish secretary Michael Moore for the Highlands and Islands to be included in the roll out programme during his recent visit to the isles.

He said: “Shetland’s economic future will depend on the speed and quality of our telecommunications. Nearly every household and business in Shetland uses broadband connections. But the connections need to be better.

“The more of this investment that can happen, the better for Shetland.”