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Fibre broadband rollout reaches thousands more homes in Shetlands and Skye

Tuesday, March 1st 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The rollout of superfast broadband in the Scottish highlands and islands has reached thousands more homes and businesses.

More than 6,000 premises in the Shetland Islands have been connected in recent weeks – and around 3,000 on the Isle of Skye are set to follow.

In the Shetlands, new fibre street cabinets are already delivering superfast speeds in parts of Hamnavoe, Lerwick, Cunningsburgh, Sandwick, Scalloway, Sumburgh and Weisdale.

Work is also set to begin in Symbister over the next six months, with the first fibre connections being made available in the summer.

The rollout is part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme and is being run in the area by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Stuart Robertson, director of digital at HIE, said: “It’s great to see the fibre cabinets coming through in locations across Shetland.

“Recent additions include the UK’s most northerly cabinets in Weisdale. In Lerwick, a new cabinet reaching more than 400 premises has also gone live, taking the total number of cabinets in the town to 15.”

On Skye, services are already available to order in the Kiltragleann estate in Portree courtesy of the island’s first fibre cabinet.

A new cabinet has also been built in Kyleakin and is expected to go ‘live’ soon after testing.

Now the DSSB project will be building new telecoms and fibre cabinets across the island, and one on Raasay, to bring better broadband to a number of villages.

Work is starting on the new infrastructure in Ardvasar, Broadford, Dunvegan, Edinbane, Isle Ornsay, Raasay, Uig and Portree.

More coverage is also coming to Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland – reaching more than 400 additional premises.

'No one is forgotten'

Mr Robertson added: “Building a fibre optic network in Skye opens up access to high speed broadband to many people for the first time.

“Without the public investment it simply wasn’t viable for the market to bring fibre to many parts of the Highlands.”

He said putting a core network in place will now help the DSSB project build out to reach more communities in the future.

“We won’t reach everyone in this first phase, but no one is forgotten,” said Mr Robertson.

“Digital Scotland partners, including our colleagues at Community Broadband Scotland, are looking at where we could reach with an additional phase of rollout and through community-led projects for those in the hardest to reach areas.”

Last month, Cable.co.uk reported that the DSSB programme had reached 115,000 premises in the Highlands and Islands.

BT Scotland’s fibre broadband director Liz Mallinson said: “We look forward to building on the progress of the rollout to date and bringing fast fibre to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

“We’re urging local people to check if they’re among the thousands who can already get high speed services.

“There’s lots of competition in the broadband market, and people may be pleasantly surprised to discover they could be surfing at much higher speeds at a similar cost to their current service.”

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