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Community / Telecom cable installation to islands could get underway soon

The C.S. Sovereign in Whalsay on Monday. Photo: Ivan Reid

THE INSTALLATION of subsea broadband cables to some of Shetland’s islands is set to get underway “soon”.

The work is part of the Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% (R100) programme to bolster connectivity across the country.

Cables will be laid to Yell, Unst, Whalsay and Fair Isle, while islands in Orkney, the Highlands area and the west coast will also be connected.

The cable which will connect to Fair Isle will run between Orkney and Sumburgh.

Economy secretary Kate Forbes said this week that work on the Shetland cables will get underway soon, with the hope that things will be finished later in the summer.

The large C S Sovereign vessel has been in and around the isles recently as part of the project.

A notice to mariners says the work could run through to early September, although timings are dependent on weather and other operational conditions.

The R100 programme aims to bring superfast broadband to every property in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government and our delivery partners Openreach are providing future-proofed, fast and reliable broadband services to 15 islands across Argyll and Bute, the Highlands, Shetland and Orkney,” Forbes said.

“Preparation of the seabed began last week for deployment of 16 new subsea fibre cables that will connect island communities via the Reaching 100% (R100) programme. This is part of the £384 million R100 North contract which will connect more than 2,300 homes and businesses across Shetland.

“The Normand Clipper vessel is collecting sub-sea cables in Norway and will begin installation beneath the seabed around Shetland soon.

“The process is due to be completed over the summer, with 139 miles of cables in total, ranging from shorter routes between the mainland and Lismore in the Inner Hebrides to a 71 mile connection between Shetland and Sanday in Orkney.

“This will deliver full fibre broadband capable of one gigabit per second download speeds, more than 30 times faster than the Scottish Government’s original superfast commitment.”