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Community / Subsea power cables used to bring fibre broadband to North Isles

ELECTRICITY cables connecting the Shetland mainland to Yell and Unst are now supporting the rollout of superfast fibre broadband to public sector buildings in the North Isles.

In recent months Shetland Islands Council has been deploying fibre optic cables to public sector sites in Unst and Yell as part of the UK Government’s local full fibre network programme.

Shetland Telecom announced last week that it had completed the first ever fibre optic link to the island of Yell by utilising fibre cores in the SSEN submarine electricity distribution cables.

The new link will complement the soon to be commissioned high capacity microwave radio link between the islands.

The project will see fibre broadband brought to schools, health centres and council buildings.

As part of the partnership, nine of SSEN’s electricity substations across the isles will be connected via Shetland Telecom’s fibre network, providing SSEN’s teams with remote visibility of the electricity distribution network powering the islands.

In the long-term, fibre connectivity to SSEN’s infrastructure will provide the opportunity to detect and prevent faults before they occur and enable the faster restoration of supplies during power cuts, the company said.

SSEN distribution’s operational technology fixed link manager Gavin McBain said: “As more subsea fibre is installed in and around Shetland, we hope we can build on this partnership to help connect island communities for years to come.”

SIC development committee chairman Alastair Cooper said: “In a rural community like Shetland it is vital that all stakeholders work together.

“This partnership with SSEN has provided fibre infrastructure on a route which we simply could not have achieved ourselves and will ensure high capacity resilient connectivity for Yell and Unst.”