BT recycles undersea cable to bring superfast broadband to Scilly Isles

BT is to upgrade the internet connection of residents on the Isles of Scilly as part of a 132 million contract to implement superfast broadband to Cornwall and the surrounding region.

The 3.7 million project will recycle a currently unused undersea cable running between the mainland and the Scilly Isles. The cable was last used three years ago for communications between the UK, Ireland and Spain.

The telco said the scheme was its "most ambitious UK project yet" to bring fibre broadband to a remote community. A cable ship will spend a month moving and cutting two cables before bring them onshore on Scilly. The project is set to come online during the first half of 2014.

The project is part of the Superfast Cornwall initiative between the European Regional Development Fund, BT and Cornwall Council, which plans to deliver faster broadband throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in 2014.

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.

"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," said Ranulf Scarbrough, Superfast Cornwall programme director for BT.

"The remote location of the Isles of Scilly, their wonderful maritime heritage and scientific and environmental status will present a variety of unique engineering challenges," said Scarbrough. "But BT has extensive experience of laying subsea cables in sensitive locations around the UK and further afield."

"Environmentally, it is excellent news that we are able to breathe new life into existing cables which are no longer used, but still in very good condition," he added.

Councillor Mike Hicks, chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly said that 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."

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.