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SIC - Free Tyre Check - 22 Nov 2019

Council / Fibre broadband for North Isles moving closer

Fibre broadband is set to come to Unst. Photo: Shetland News

A PROJECT to bring fibre broadband to the North Isles is progressing after planning applications were submitted for laying the necessary cabling.

Shetland Islands Council was successful earlier this year in securing funding of almost £2 million from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to extend its fibre broadband network to Yell and Unst, providing far greater connectivity.

Chief executive Maggie Sandison said the council is “absolutely committed to making it happen as quickly as we can”.

It will set up connections between public sector premises, including schools and care centres, and NHS Shetland premises such as health centres, opening up possibilities for videolink working such as online learning and telemedicine.

It is expected that the broadband will be able to be extended to domestic and business premises in the future as the project is aligned to the Scottish Government’s £600 million Reaching 100 per cent (R100) programme, which aims to bring superfast broadband to all.

It is hoped that the project will allow for a technical solution to improve the council’s broadband links to neighbouring Fetlar in the near future.

A series of planning applications have now been submitted for installing 22mm ducts in road verges or into existing carriageway from Mossbank to Unst, with fibre optic cable then placed within.

A supporting statement for the application states that the council and its public sector partners operate a total of 20 sites in Yell and Unst.

“Without improvements in broadband services pressure on service centralisation and island depopulation will grow,” it adds.

Sandison said work would start as soon as the project gets planning consent.

“We’ve got a target deadline, because obviously the funding application had a deadline on it as well, so we need to go on with it as soon as we get the permissions coming through from planning,” she said.

“We’re absolutely committed to making it happen as quickly as we can. It is a priority to get the project done.”