A £146 million investment in fibre broadband has been heralded as a ‘new age of communications’ across the the Highlands and Islands with the Western Isles included in the highly ambitious project.
It will mean that 84% of homes and businesses in the Highlands and Islands will have access to fibre broadband by the end of the project which is being funded by the public sector (£126.4 million through the Scottish Governments Broadband fund) Highlands and Islands Enterprise (providing £12 million from its own budget) and BT (who are investing an additional £19.4 million on top of its investment in its wider commercial roll-out for the region).
In what is described as the most ambitious and challenging rural broadband rollout undertaken by BT anywhere in the UK. Around 400km of subsea cables over 19 crossing to remote islands will be laid – with more than 800km of new fibre to be installed on land along side hundreds more kilometres of fibre access cable to hundreds of new street cabinets.
Deployment details for the first phase are due to be finalised with detailed plans for each local authority area to be announced in ‘due course’.
The announcement was widely welcomed by island politicians when the news of the investment came out today (Tuesday 26th March).
Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan said: “This is a huge investment by the Scottish Government in improving the Broadband network in the Highlands and Islands. I am very conscious that the Western Isles has to have improved access to broadband if it is to grow economically.”