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Undersea cables bring superfast broadband to Scilly Isles

Unused fibre cables lying on the Atlantic seabed bring superfast broadband to the Isles of Scilly, replacing a radio link to Cornwall

The Isles of Scilly are to get superfast broadband thanks to unused fibre technology deep beneath the sea.

The rural setting just off from the south-west tip of Cornwall currently uses a broadband service provided over a radio link from Land's End.

However, unused fibre optic cables running along the Atlantic Ocean seabed – used for communications between the UK, Ireland and Spain until three years ago – will be redirected to the Scilly Isles and bring superior speeds to residents and businesses.

"We are delighted that a solution has been found to give our islands the best broadband access,” said Councillor Mike Hicks, chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly. 

“The Isles of Scilly 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.”

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

Nigel Ashcroft, Superfast Cornwall programme director

“Faster broadband will underpin our tourist trade, help our farmers and growers and promote distance learning. New business opportunities will be stimulated on the Islands, encouraging local productivity and enhancing our quality of life."

The scheme will cost £3.7m and be funded by Superfast Cornwall – a joint £132m project funded by Cornwall Council, BT and the European Regional Development Fund to bring superfast broadband to the region.

"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,” said Nigel Ashcroft, Superfast Cornwall programme director for the Cornwall Development Company.

“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.”

The cutting and redirecting of the two cables should take a specialist ship about a month to complete. However, with the additional infrastructure needed on the Isles, residents and businesses will have to wait until the first half of 2014 to exploit the enhanced connectivity.  

Ashcroft added: “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."

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