Shetland gets £1.9m broadband upgrade for council and NHS buildings

Written by Sooraj Shah on 14 March 2019 in News
News

Funding from DCMS will see network upgraded and extended across Yell and Unst 

Shetland Islands Council has received £1.91million through the government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to upgrade and extend its fibre network across Yell and Unst.

The council was awarded the funding through the Local Full Fibre Network Challenge Fund, and it will mean that high-speed internet connections will be installed between public sector premises in the area. This will include council buildings such as schools and care centres, as well as NHS Shetland premises, such as health centres. It will also open up possibilities for video linked working such as online learning and telemedicine, the council said. 

The project forms part of the Scottish government’s Reaching 100% (R100) Programme in Unst and Yell, which aims to extend superfast access to all premises in the area. The council believes the provision of core infrastructure to public premises will make connections to homes and businesses in the area easier through connectivity “hubs”. This infrastructure will be made available to bidders in the Scottish government’s £600m procurement. 

The network route is still being finalised, but the council stated that it would take the existing network from Graven to Mossbank and Toft to Yell and Unst, and is hopeful this will be extended to Fetlar in the near future. It hopes that gigabit fibre connections will be provided through the eventual route, connecting all public buildings and major settlements. 

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Procurement work for the project is expected to start soon, with work expected to start on the extension of the fibre network in summer 2019, with project completion expected in late 2019 or early 2020.

“This is good news for the North Isles, who have historically suffered from poor broadband and connectivity, while other parts of Shetland have seen upgrades,” said Alastair Cooper, Chair of the Council’s Development Committee.

“This is a positive improvement for public services in Yell and Unst, which lays a foundation of connectivity that can be extended to domestic and business premises in the future. We hope that the R100 initiative will help deliver domestic and business connectivity in the near future too,” he added.

“We're building a Britain that's fit for the future, and our plans for a national full fibre broadband network underpin our modern Industrial Strategy,” said UK Minister for Digital Margot James.

“This £1.91 million boost for gigabit speeds in the North Isles will build on the great work already being done by Shetland Islands Council and I congratulate them on their successful bid,” James added.

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