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Fibre broadband making a 'massive difference' on Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Thursday, July 16th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Fibre broadband has arrived on the historic Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland.

Engineers from Openreach, BT’s network maintenance business, overcame a range of challenges to bring superfast speeds to the island as part of the iNorthumberland programme.

As well as battling the North Sea, which covers the causeway access at high tide, a team of 11 engineers had to keep the busy A1 road flowing and clear more than 90 underground duct blockages to lay around 14km of fibre cables from Berwick to the island.

A new street cabinet has also been installed on the tidal island to enable connection to the new fibre technology.

Previously, telephone lines on Holy Island were not served by a street cabinet, but ran straight from the island’s phone exchange to homes and businesses.

Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “Living on an island like Lindisfarne can present its challenges – not least of which is the need for suitable communications links.

“Tourism businesses have to be able to compete on a level playing field and residents too wish to receive the same level of service as their neighbours on the mainland.

“I am delighted that through the iNorthumberland programme we have been able to provide superfast broadband to this community.”

More than 145 homes and businesses can now access superfast broadband, and some are already taking advantage of the technology.

'Everything is champion'

Sean Atkinson, who runs the Lindisfarne Hotel on the island with partner Jacqueline, said: “It has made a massive difference.

“We’ve gone from a speed of half a megabit per second to about 37Mbps.”

The hotel provides free wi-fi to its guests, a service that before the fibre upgrade “hardly worked at all”, said Mr Atkinson.

“In one particular guest room, people had to sit on the end of the bed near the door to get a connection.

“If too many guests were using it at the same time, it meant there wasn’t enough bandwidth for me to get online and deal with the hotel’s admin and correspondence.

“I’d end up having to switch off the wi-fi just so I’d have enough bandwidth to send an email.

“Now everything is champion. Returning guests have already commented on how much better the broadband is.”

Simon Roberson, BT’s North East regional partnership director, said: “Holy Island is a popular tourist destination for visitors to the area so plays an important role in supporting the local economy.

“Having a superfast connection will provide a massive boost to those businesses by enabling them to better exploit the new digital market place.

“For example, it allows them to provide a more streamlined experience for visitors and guests with services like wi-fi, cashless transactions and automated check-in or attracting new customers with an increased web presence and other powerful online marketing tools.”

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