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BT-backed superfast broadband project finally comes ashore in Stornoway

The first fruits of BT’s undersea efforts are being felt in the Outer Hebrides; from today, around 3,600 customers in Stornoway will be able to order superfast broadband. 

The most populous town on the islands is an obvious first target for BT engineers, who have been busy installing sub-sea cables along the length of the Hebrides since August last year. 

From today, 11 cabinets in Stornoway and the nearby village of Tong will be powered up, giving  families and firms the opportunity to order FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet)-based services from a number of ISPs using BT’s Openreach network. 

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, commented: “This is a momentous day and a huge first step in transforming the future of connectivity for communities and businesses across the Outer Hebrides. 

Related: BT’s 250 mile Scottish subsea cable route revealed“This investment is designed to reach Scotland’s remoter communities, none of which would have seen these kinds of connections through the commercial market. It marks more positive progress thanks to the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Programme.”

The Hebridean leg of the Digital Scotland venture has seen BT lay roughly 1,200 kilometres of fibre optic cables on land and on the sea bed. Supervised and co-funded by the HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise), the project aims to see at least 200,000 premises able to order superfast broadband by 2017. 

Alex Paterson, chief executive of the HIE spoke of plans to increase coverage in the future. Paterson said: “Over the course of the next year we will see the roll-out of this game-changing network reach at least 70 per cent of premises across the islands. 

“We won’t stop there and we are ambitious that the huge step up in capacity that it brings will help us find solutions for more and more people in even the hardest to reach areas.” 

While Paterson is sketchy on the details, we’ve seen BT engineers in Devon bring superfast broadband to a remote village using a microwave ‘wireless to the cabinet’ link. It’s possible that this and other technologies including G.fast, which is currently being trialled across the UK, and FTTdp (Fibre to the Distribution Point) could be used to bring superfast services to more locations. 

It’s unclear if any premises on the isle of Lewis or elsewhere in the Outer Hebrides will be able to order FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) connections once the project is finished. 

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