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Plans unveiled for £3.7m superfast broadband connection to the Scillies

By WMNLizParks  |  Posted: March 06, 2013

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The Superfast Cornwall scheme has announced £3.7 million plans to bring faster broadband to the  Isles of Scilly by moving an underwater cable to connect the archipelago.

Fibre optic cables, which have remained unused on the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean for about three years, are to be diverted to the  islands as part of the £132 million Superfast Cornwall initiative which aims to bring faster broadband scheme to the Duchy.

The partnership between BT and Cornwall Council has already upgraded half of homes and businesses on the mainland but connecting the Scillies has long been regarded as one of the most challenging aspects of the European-funded scheme.

It is expected that the first Isles of Scilly customers will be connected during the first half of 2014. A cable ship is due to spend about a month later this year cutting and moving two cables, which had previously been used for communications between the UK and Ireland and Spain.

Until now, the 2,200 residents of the Isles of Scilly – located 28 miles off the South West tip of Cornwall – have had to make do with a broadband service provided by a radio link between Lands End and the Isles.

People on all five of Scilly's inhabited islands are expected to benefit from the latest investment.

Nigel Ashcroft, Superfast Cornwall  programme director for Cornwall Development Company, said: "The project to deliver fibre optic broadband for the Isles of Scilly will be one of the most important steps forward for the islands for many years. It will be truly life-changing for businesses on the isles, enabling them to be better connected to existing customers and colleagues and opening the door to doing business in more markets across the world. We believe superfast broadband will fuel economic growth on the islands by helping existing firms become more efficient and enabling them to seize new market opportunities and by also sparking more start-up businesses. This means more local jobs and a stronger, more sustainable economy for Scilly."

Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall programme director for BT, said: "BT engineers have devised a highly innovative and environmentally-friendly scheme to bring fibre broadband to the islands that is pioneering in every sense of the word. It is certainly the most ambitious initiative of its kind ever undertaken in UK waters and probably in Europe." 

Cllr Mike Hicks, chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, said: "We are 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. Faster broadband will underpin our tourist trade, will help our farmers and growers and will promote distance learning. New business opportunities will be stimulated on the islands, encouraging local productivity and enhancing our quality of life."

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8 comments

  • nick113  |  March 07 2013, 6:28AM

    @crgee. Good point. And supposing most households have about three people, and probably half the houses don't want broadband, that'll cost about £10,000 per house connected. Still it's EU money, which is free......hang on, we pay in three times as much to the EU as we get out, so that's costing UK taxpayers £30,000 per connection!

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  • Phil_lip  |  March 07 2013, 12:01AM

    It is time this was done but for them to have had a subsidy from Europe to do it after years of non-investment , job cuts and increasing profits is pretty poor. Of course BT is a successful company in the eyes of the business world, but not because of delivery to customer.

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  • shagrats  |  March 06 2013, 4:23PM

    "Broadband issues at Coombe are already being actively addressed by the Superfast Cornwall programme, and we hope to make further announcements regarding this in the near future." And I have E mails from 3 years ago that said exactly that.. Its just spin. There has been nothing done for our village in years. Only last month a neighbour of mine was refused not only broadband after BT had sold him the service but they couldn't even get a telephone line to his house as they dont have the capacity to do this due to lack of investment.

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  • crgee  |  March 06 2013, 3:42PM

    by First Impressions..."Excellent news for the islands......" I should think the Islanders are over the moon .... over £1700 of taxpayers money per person being spent on them for super fast BB..

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  • SuperfastCwll  |  March 06 2013, 1:35PM

    Thanks for your comments. Broadband issues at Coombe are already being actively addressed by the Superfast Cornwall programme, and we hope to make further announcements regarding this in the near future.

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  • First Impressions  |  March 06 2013, 12:29PM

    Shagrats - that's not good at all. Can you not write to your service provider and get Broadband installed. I would ring BT on 0870 240 5060 and tell them. They hate bad publicity and this would definitely give them a bad name. There must be a cabinet near to you. Get a group of people together to fight your cause.

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  • shagrats  |  March 06 2013, 12:25PM

    In my village in Coombe nr St Austell, we are still on dial up, there is no mobile phone signal. and the unfit BT infa structure has a hard time with telephone calls. BT have been promising for years and years they would upgrade our service but with no results so far.

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  • First Impressions  |  March 06 2013, 11:04AM

    Excellent news for the islands. No doubt the small businesses will benefit enormously. We in Truro have had fibre optic broadband since April 2011 almost 2 years now.

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