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Community / Survey work for telecom subsea cables to commence

SURVEY work in preparation to lay subsea cables that will provide superfast broadband to communities in Unst, Yell, Whalsay and Fair Isle will get underway this summer, the Scottish Government has announced.

It comes just days after a subsea cable was laid across Yell Sound by Shetland Telecom to deploy fibre to Yell and Unst as part of the UK Government’s LFFN (Local Full Fibre Network) programme.

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R100 Subsea island connections. Map: Scottish Government

The Scottish Government funded survey work for subsea cables to 15 Scottish island communities, including four in Shetland, are part of the Scottish Government’s R100 programme that aims to bring superfast broadband to all households.

Delayed by a legal challenge, the £384 million contract for the north lot was only signed in December last year.

Connectivity and islands minister Paul Wheelhouse said the laying of the cables should commence in spring of next year.

“The role of digital connectivity in our everyday lives has never been clearer as we tackle the pandemic,” he said.

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“The new subsea cables will ensure these 15 island communities have access to futureproofed, resilient, reliable connections – something that will make a huge difference to both residents and businesses there.

“It will help improve the quality of life for both current and future islanders, while also benefitting visitors once inbound tourism can safely return.

“We have also developed plans, in parallel with main infrastructure investment, to ensure our 100% superfast commitment is met with our Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme. This will ensure that everyone can access and benefit from this world-leading digital capability.”

The separate UK funded project by Shetland Telecom which connects Yell and Unst to the council-owned company’s network could result in two separate telecom networks being available in the North Isles.

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