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Community / High-speed connectivity on the cards for Papa Stour as part of a government funded trial

Households in Papa Stour could soon be connected to high speed broadband. Photo: Shetland News

THE SMALL community of Papa Stour is set to benefit from high-speed satellite broadband in the not too distant future, part of a UK Government pilot project to connect ‘very hard to reach’ areas.

Global satellite communication company OneWeb has been commissioned to provide the technology required to enable broadband connections on the small islands off the Westside.

It is part of a larger £8 million package to provide satellite connectivity to some of the UK’s most remote locations.

Details as to what support will be available to homeowners to get connected to the network will be released “in due course”, the UK Government said in a statement.

Shetland Islands Council has been working with the UK Government to confirm Papa Stour as one of seven trial sites across the UK.

Executive manager in the council’s development department Tommy Coutts said: “We understand that this satellite link will be located at the Papa Stour school and we’ll continue to work with the department for science, innovation and technology on these plans.

“Once the installation approach is confirmed by the supplier, we will be in a position to further discuss with the community and if necessary, we will provide technical support to deliver this project, which will significantly improve digital connectivity for current and future residents in Papa Stour.”

Coutts added that projects to improve connectivity on other islands such as Fair Isle, Fetlar and Foula were underway using other technologies.

Secretary of state for science, innovation and technology Michelle Donelan MP said: “Our Wireless Infrastructure Strategy sets out our plan to ensure everyone, no matter where they live, can reap the benefits of improved connectivity.

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“With the help of companies like OneWeb, we are committing £8m to provide satellite connectivity for our most remote communities so that no one is left behind, while ensuring all populated areas in the UK will be served by what I call ‘5G-plus’ technology by 2030.”

Earlier this year it emerged that Papa Stour was chosen as the location for a month-long trial of a fully electric ferry between West Burrafirth and the island. This is due to take place in 2025.

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