BT Start Preparations For Scilly’s Superfast Broadband Link

bt_openreach_vanBT are starting detailed survey work on the islands this week in preparation for the arrival of superfast broadband next year.

They sent a van over on the Gry Maritha on Saturday with the necessary equipment installed.

Programme Manager, Ranulf Scarbrough says the link to Scilly is the most ambitious and innovative part of the whole Superfast Cornwall project, which is part funded by the EU.

The plan is two cut two disused undersea cables, one linking the UK with Spain, the other to Ireland, and redirect them to Scilly.

It’ll be a tricky engineering project involving a specialised ship and robotic submarine, but Ranulf says the result will be a huge increase in internet capacity for the islands.

From Radio Scilly

Ranulf Scarbrough talks about delivering super fast broadband to Scilly

It will also be safer as both cables will enter St Mary’s at different points, and connect to the mainland in separate parts of Cornwall, so if one gets snagged by a boat, the other can be used instead.

Ranulf says conventional broadband is dependent on the distance you are from the exchange. That’s because it uses the old copper cable network.

The new system will see fast fibre optic cable being used to carry the information to green, roadside cabinets, located much closer to most homes on the islands. The final few metres will still be by the old copper network, but it means most homes and businesses on the islands will be able to get up to 80 Mbps speeds as standard. That’s a big increase on the 3 or 4 Mbps average.

The off-islands will each be linked by a cable from St Mary’s.

If you really do want the fastest speeds, you’ll be able to get up to 300 Mbps by paying a one off fee of £1,000 to get fibre all the way to your door, which Ranulf says may be attractive for some businesses and organisations.

The project intends to use existing ducting and telegraph poles where possible, limiting the amount of roadworks that are likely to take place. And Ranulf says there will be minimal environmental impact as the cables on the seabed to the off-islands are about as wide as your little finger.

While some suppliers may charge more for the faster service, Ranulf says their experience on the mainland is that most companies keep the price reasonable to hold on to their customers. He says the average is around £38 per month, around £15 more than existing broadband packages.

It’s expected that the service will be available in the first half of next year.

5 Responses to BT Start Preparations For Scilly’s Superfast Broadband Link

  1. Ranulf Scarbrough May 10, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    @ Paul: I am sorry if what I said confused. General retail Superfast Broadband products from service providers start from £15 per month before special offers. Faster offerings are also available, for example, BT Retail currently offer a 160Mbps for £35 per month. The fastest offering, 330Mbps, has not yet been priced by retail service providers so I can’t tell you the retail price. However, the Wholesale price is £38 per month for this fastest product which we hope will mean service providers will be able to produce affordable retail products at this speed. Prices from all providers are likely to fluctuate as they compete with one another and that should be good news for consumers. I hope that explains …

    Ranulf Scarbrough
    Superfast Cornwall Programme Director, BT Group

  2. tinksToby May 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Can I just say how important I think it is for the islands to get good quality broadband.

    As the world slowly moves onto cloud based solutions, from B&B booking systems to emails, it is becoming ever more important to be able to get online.

    Increasingly people booking holidays will book where there is wifi and as more and as more people work remotely the ability for the islands to provide a good quality connection is not so much a nicety but a necessity.

    House prices are also increasingly effected by connection speed, I know three couples in the last year that have seriously considered broadband speed and distance from cabinet when they have bought as all work sometimes from home and can’t do this with a reliable connection.

    So this is really great news and I don’t think the benefit to the islands economy can be underestimated.


  3. Paul May 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    In the interview the BT man says “the wholesale price is about £38 per month”. You can hear it clearly. So why are BT now saying different prices.. Every time you call them you get a different price for their packages. What a confusing mess. Whats the point of it if it costs almost £40 a month.Too much for us islanders

  4. Anne Droid May 7, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Ranulf this cannot come quick enough, thankyou.

    I think I’ll say goodbye to Sky and embrace Virgin Media, or perhaps BT Vision.

  5. Ranulf Scarbrough May 7, 2013 at 11:30 am

    The cheapest Superfast product in the market today is actually £15 per month (not £38). Several offerings are available from serice providers below £20 per month. We are finding many people are signing up to Superfast and not actually paying any more.

    “Fibre on Demand” is a new service providing ultrafast 330Mbps speeds. We expect this to potentially be of interest to businesses where 80Mbps is insufficient for their needs. Service providers have not announced their prices for this product yet but Openreach expects average connection charges it charges service providers – which are dependant on distance – to be around £1000.

    Ranulf Scarbrough
    Superfast Cornwall Programme Director, BT Group