Fibre Optic Cable Plan Could Start Next Week

bt microwave link telegraphThe first stages of an ambitious, £3.7m plan to bring a fibre optic broadband link to Scilly could get underway as early as next week.

The scheme was announced in March last year as part of the EU and BT funded Superfast Cornwall project and is expected to make Scilly amongst the “best connected” islands in the world.

Council Economic Development staff have stated that the improved internet infrastructure is likely to provide a significant boost to the economy and encourage diversification away from tourism.

IFCA Officer Steve Watt says the state-of-the-art cable-laying vessel CS Resolute, currently in dock in Avonmouth, is due to start operations from 5th July. That’s earlier than expected, says Steve.

But he added that those dates will be subject to weather conditions and BT spokesperson Jason Mann told us the final plans can’t be confirmed yet as they’re still under discussion.

The Resolute is expected to locate a redundant undersea cable that runs from Porthcurno in Cornwall to Santander in Spain. This will then be diverted to Scilly, arriving on land in the Porthcressa area.

Steve said the ship is an “incredible vessel”, with satellite-guided thrusters that can keep it in a single position to within a few metres. It can carry up to 80 crew and stay at sea for around 60 days at a time.

A new cable is expected to be laid shortly afterwards linking St Mary’s, near Barts Carn, to Pentle Bay on Tresco. A second will cross from New Grimsby to Bryher.

A smaller vessel will carry out this work, with divers from Falmouth checking the seabed as it goes down. St Agnes and St Martin’s will be connected by microwave links from St Mary’s.

In March, Superfast Cornwall said they were on track to start connecting the first households to the new service, offering up to 80 Mbps speeds, by the end of the year. Current top speed of connection is near the phone exchange at Telegraph, where its reaches around 8 Mpbs.

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