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News on North Isles broadband bid soon

Unst. Photo: Shetland News

COUNCIL officials expect to hear next week if a second bid for £2 million of UK Government funding to roll out fibre broadband in the North Isles is successful.

Shetland Islands Council development director Neil Grant told members of the local authority’s development committee on Tuesday that news of the Full Fibre Challenge Fund bid should be known on 18 December.

A similar bid last year to bring high speed broadband to Unst, Yell and Fetlar failed.

But Grant said on Tuesday that he is hopeful that repeating the bid could convince government officials that the isles is well placed to carry out the work.

“It has a business case that stacks up,” he said. “We can get going on it quickly.”

North Isles councillor Ryan Thomson said that poor broadband reliability and speeds was one of the main concerns for his constituents.

Councillors were previously told that if the second bid was not successful then the council would have to consider investing directly.

It has been previously estimated that the introduction of a fibre network in the North Isles could result in savings of around £100,000 for NHS Shetland through a greater capacity for telehealth appointments.

Grant, meanwhile, warned that he is not too optimistic that the Scottish Government will meet its intention to bring super fast broadband to 100 per cent of the country in the next few years.

“It feels as if it’s unlikely to hit the targets by 2021,” he said.