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.

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