Scilly To Be Amongst Best Connected Islands In The World

Scilly's current broadband microwave link based at Telegraph

Scilly’s current broadband microwave link based at Telegraph

The Isles of Scilly are set to become some of the best connected islands in the world in what’s been described as the most ambitious project ever undertaken in the UK to bring superfast broadband to a remote community.

Superfast Cornwall, the £132m initiative between the European Union, BT and Cornwall Council, has announced that fibre optic cables, which have remained unused on the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean for about three years, are to be diverted to Scilly.

The scheme is expected to cost £3.7m with the first customers being connected during the first half of 2014.

A cable ship is due to spend about a month later this year cutting and moving the two cables, which had previously been used for communications between the UK, Ireland and Spain.

Until now, the islands have had to make do with a broadband service provided by a radio link with Land’s End.

Diana Mompoloki from the Council’s economic development team has pushed hard for a fibre optic connection to the islands and described the news as “incredibly exciting.”

She said the Council will now be working with Superfast Cornwall and BT on the roll out but will also be supporting businesses in Scilly to access support designed to help them make the best of this opportunity.

Council chairman Mike Hicks said he was delighted that a solution has been found to give our islands the best broadband access.

“The Isles of Scilly’s communications with the UK mainland and beyond are a key part of creating a better, more prosperous future for islanders and will allow this vibrant community to take full advantage of its unique location,” said Mike

Mike added that faster broadband will underpin our tourist trade, will help our farmers and growers and will promote distance learning.

Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall programme director said BT engineers have devised a highly innovative and environmentally-friendly scheme to bring fibre optic broadband to the islands that is pioneering in every sense of the word.

He said it’s excellent news that new life can be given to existing cables, which are no longer used, but still in very good condition.

“It is certainly the most ambitious initiative of its kind ever undertaken in UK waters and probably in Europe,” he said.

“Superfast Cornwall has raised the bar again by showing that fibre broadband can be brought to places that some thought impossible.”

The Superfast Cornwall project has already delivered high-speed fibre broadband to more than half of all Cornish homes and businesses.



8 Responses to Scilly To Be Amongst Best Connected Islands In The World

  1. John Headon March 6, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Woohoo – fantastic!!

  2. Bill Weaver March 6, 2013 at 11:50 am

    This is great news for the islands – hopefully BT will one day do something similar for rural Oxfordshire………..

  3. Terry March 6, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Though I absolutely support the arrival of superfast broadband, I cannot help think how we will really benefit from it as a community as per Mike’s little speech. We currently have broadband that supports most people’s needs, businesses are thriving from it and the public are getting they’re voices heard from all over the world and sharing pictures/videos alike.

    The only positive I can see from having superfast broadband, from a business point of view, is (with the limitations of their ISP) faster upload speeds. But then how much, really, is this affecting business users as it stands? Are there really people out there uploading mountains of information to new websites constantly throughout the day? My guess is no. More like once a day, and then that person will more than likely walk away from the PC, flick the kettle on and make a brew, then come back to the PC to find the upload complete. If they really wanted a faster upload speed then they should have chosen a synchronous broadband package to suit their business needs, expensive I know, but if it’s critical to the running of the business…

    The download speeds on the other hand will be great for those people who, bless them, prefer not to rent or buy a DVD/Blu-Ray from shops like HMV. And for those people whom stream movies from say Netflix, I personally have never had an issue with it with my ISP. But on the same note, all of our broadband choices are limited by us not being in a low cost area. Until BT sell off parts of their exchange to other ISP’s we will never get the speeds advertised to us from them.

    Again, just to reiterate, I support and welcome the arrival of a better connection to the islands but please… Don’t make out that it will be a life changing event for all of us because it’s really not that a bigger deal!

    • Jeremy Pearson March 6, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      To imagine how life will be different with faster internet, consider what life was like before the mid 1990’s, when most homes and businesses did not have a connection to the internet.

      The arrival of email probably made a life-changing and economic difference to many people and businesses, as social media is beginning to do now. We can certainly live without interacting online, but to do so tends to incur costs, in real money, in time, and in efficiency. Businesses (and other organisations) that harness the internet invariably make savings, extend their reach, and develop better relationships with customers and suppliers, all of which promote “survival, profit and growth”, the three cornerstones of any business.

      The driver of the industrial age was efficiency. The driver of the social age (since 2010) is connections, and faster internet means better connections, leading to better business, and ultimately a better local and national economy.

      In my opinion, the greatest impact for Scilly could be in public services, education at all ages, and in healthcare. Superfast broadband can deliver services which are not currently available, due to cost or due to slow speed. For example, medical scanning in many of its forms could realistically be performed at the hospital on St Mary’s, with GPs and consultants observing from the mainland. This significantly reduces the cost of a scan (and the time taken to perform it), as the patient does not have to travel, which has a positive impact on the budget of the Primary Care Trust.

      More likely, I’ll use an app on my smartphone to photograph a mole on my forearm (Scilly is a high-risk area for skin cancer), and using the 3G/4G mobile data network, delivered by superfast broadband, I’ll be able to determine immediately if the mole is a cause for concern (at zero cost to the NHS, btw).

      If Scilly is to remain “strong and sustainable” then superfast broadband will likely play an increasingly-important role in economic sustainability and growth.

    • Alan March 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm

      Terry, in response to you all I can say is you are being very shortsighted. I run an Internet based business from Scilly and I receive and deliver all my work over the Internet. I send and receive large documents and this will help my business by eliminating a bottleneck that limits my productivity. Furthermore, think about the prospects of enticing new businesses to Scilly and the income that will bring. I am here because I choose to be, my business is location independent and I choose to be on Scilly, super-fast broadband will cement my ability to provide the service I strive to provide and keep my customers happy and allow me to be competitive on a world scale. It’s not all about watching movies… Roll on 2014!

      • Terry March 8, 2013 at 7:52 am

        I understand your comments but I still stand by my original one which basically outlines that life will continue on as normal. Life in the early 90’s was a struggle with 56k modems and ISDN lines but then these connections were diabolical (ISDN was OK and stable but still slow for downloading). But the arrival of broadband was a giant leap for everyone it terms of reliability and speed, but I don’t see ‘super fast’ broadband having a significant effect on businesses personally. Plus, how many times have you heard (or me at least) of people using the Internet over here for what it was intended? Video conferencing, server hosting etc…? It all sounds good but no one realistically takes advantage of this technology even now when it is perfectly viable in the business sector, they much rather have a trip to the mainland in most case. Please take the ‘most cases’ as the main point of this comment… But, I will still be signing up for fibre optic broadband in a flash, no doubt about it!

        • Kev Wright March 8, 2013 at 11:27 am

          Terry, I run a music website and constantly download and upload to the internet. For the amount of material I need to transfer speeds are currently too slow. I also depend a lot on online streams (major releases aren’t sent out on CD any more for fear of piracy, so encoded streams are used) and these often break up and can be unreliable.

          My partner studies with the Open University and uses online video conferencing for both tutorials and exams, these need to be reliable or it’s just not possible to do them successfully. She just about manages now but superfast broadband would make a world of difference for both of us. More people rely on this type of service than you realise.

          • Terence March 8, 2013 at 11:21 pm

            I would be great to get a fast and reliable line for these needs and everyone else’s, but it all depends on which ISP’s will be unbundling the local exchange over here to get affordable fibre optic broadband. Looking on Sam Knows, as it stands we are still governed by BT’s wholesale, Market 1 broadband service http://www.samknows.com/broadband/exchange/WWSCIL

            The prices for unlimited fibre optic broadband, typically, in a Market 1 area is circa £26 per month! That’s almost £10 more than what I am currently spending at the moment. It seems that faster broadband will come at a price if there are no LLU’s…